FAYE: Nederland, PN-G try to save their seasons just in time

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Port Neches-Groves and Nederland faced off for their annual rivalry - Mid County Madness - during Friday at PNG. Photo made Friday, September 24, 2021 Kim Brent/The Enterprise
Port Neches-Groves and Nederland faced off for their annual rivalry - Mid County Madness - during Friday at PNG. Photo made Friday, September 24, 2021 Kim Brent/The EnterpriseKim Brent / The Enterprise

The high school football schedule is a battle of attrition, full of ups downs along the way. Seasons can change on a weekly basis, making every Friday night a potential turning point.

No team in Southeast Texas knows this better than the Nederland Bulldogs. If the Bulldogs’ season was a roller coaster, it would be one wild ride featuring a free fall at the very end.

After starting the season 5-0 overall and winning its first two district games, Nederland is now in serious danger of completely missing the postseason. The Bulldogs have lost three of their last four games, culminating with a surprise defeat at Kingwood Park last Friday.

But the Bulldogs aren’t the only local team in District 12-5A-II not performing up to standard. Port Neches-Groves is also spiraling after back-to-back losses.

It’s likely that only one of the Mid-County teams will extend their season into the playoffs. Nederland somehow still controls its own destiny for a playoff spot, but faces much stiffer competition than PN-G does this Friday.

As they often do in 12-5A-II, playoff spots come down to the final week of the season. Both Nederland and PN-G are hoping to snap out of their recent struggles to save their season just in time.

It seems like forever ago, but I once thought Nederland had a shot at going undefeated this year. The Bulldogs beat West Orange-Stark in the season opener, and was still unbeaten heading into Mid-County Madness for the first district game of the fall.

Nederland beat PN-G in a thrilling second-half comeback, then made quick work of Santa Fe the next week. The Bulldogs were rolling, and all was right in Nederland…until it wasn’t.

If you ask me, the game against Texas City was a turning point for Nederland, and not in a good way. The Bulldogs offense was exposed in a 14-2 loss that felt even worse than it was on the scoreboard. Then it was the defense’s turn to play the goat during a 66-28 loss to Barbers Hill two weeks later.

However, neither of those losses were as jarring as Nederland’s 35-22 defeat at Kingwood Park, which entered the game at 2-6 overall and 1-4 in district play. The Bulldogs were already in trouble, but that loss put Nederland on ‘Code Red’.

Meanwhile, PN-G hasn’t taken advantage of Nederland’s struggles. Back-to-back losses have been more or less expected, coming to the district’s top two seeds in Crosby (7-1, 6-0) and Texas City (7-2, 5-1).

PN-G’s obvious problem is defense. The team is allowing more than 44 points per game in district, a number fit for a bottom dweller, not an annual playoff contender. Luckily for PN-G, it’s offense has kept them afloat this season led by the quarterback Cole Crippen and running back Koby Trahan.

Enough with the season recap. Let’s talk scenarios.

Although Nederland still controls its own fate, I think PN-G has the more-likely route to the postseason. The Bulldogs, 3-3 in league play, have to face district leader Crosby in the regular-season finale. If Nederland losses that game, the Bulldogs would need PN-G to lose as well. Nederland holds the tiebreaker between the two teams, having won their Mid-County matchup.

PN-G, also at 3-3 in district, could reach as high as the No. 3 seed. The team would need to beat a winless Santa Fe team, and have Barbers Hill lose to Texas City for that to happen. It’s a very plausible scenario, but PN-G can’t take anything for granted with how things have been going lately.

On a yearly basis, the Mid-County schools are two of the most fun football teams to watch in Southeast Texas. They always seem to provide drama.

The bad news? One of them will likely be left out of this year’s playoffs.

The good news? A win this week could completely change the fortunes for both PN-G or Nederland. Will either team wake up in time?

Matt Faye is a Sports Reporter and Columnist for the Beaumont Enterprise. Contact him at MFaye@whlhjz.com or on Twitter . 

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