The Port Arthur News
PORT NECHES —
For all the tradition at a storied program like Port Neches-Groves, there is a new trend developing for head coach Brandon Faircloth. Over the past couple of seasons, there have been a number of smart, heady players leading the Indians offensive line.
This year, PN-G’s line may be young but senior left tackle Kyler Nicotre is its unquestioned leader.
“Being the returning starter from last year, it meant a lot for me to step up as a vocal leader,” Nicotre said. “To step into the role that Greg Lunceford had last year meant a lot. It’s a big thing. You always have the blind side with a right-handed quarterback. You have to know where you’re at and know what’s happening with the defense. You have
to be the vocal leader of the offensive line being the left tackle.”
The 6-foot-2, 260 pound Nicotre has plenty of experience on the varsity, having started since his sophomore year at one of the toughest positions on the line. But, playing any position on the offensive line in the PN-G offense is difficult for a lot of reasons.
“(Former Indians QB) Brennan Doty and (current PN-G QB) Travis Miller are his biggest fans,” Faircloth said. “We moved him up for depth his sophomore season because of an injury. In his first game, we had another injury that forced him in to the lineup and he did well. We left him there and didn’t look back.
“That’s a testament to our coaches and to him. He’s a leader on the offensive line and a coach on the field. He’s been in this offense for three years, so he’s got a good feel for it. Offensive line in this offense is a complicated position. It can be overlooked with the statistics on a football team, but with all the movement and adjustments, offensive line may be the most difficult position in this offense.”
Faircloth knows how much work Nicotre and the other linemen do and tries to raise awareness of it. Talking with the booster club this week, Faircloth highlighted a play against Little Cypress-Mauriceville where Nicotre’s block sprung a touchdown.
“We ran a sprint draw,” Faircloth said. “Kyler was covered up by a defensive end and was supposed to go get the outside linebacker. He came off the line, held up the end until he could pass him off to the guard, then went and made his block on the linebacker. It was a great play that went for a touchdown.”
Nicotre said he didn’t even get a chance to think on the play. His experience just kicked in and he reacted more than anything.
“It really wasn’t thinking, I just reacted to this dude who came up so I blocked him,” Nicotre said. “I felt Chris come over and get him, so I was able to go get my block. I didn’t know if they were going to play a 5 or a 4. He ended up playing a five and the linebacker blitzed. I told Chris to look out for that and I guess you could say we picked it up on the fly.”
That play in particular showed how important his experience was for Faircloth. In particular, it was a product of the thing a coach can’t teach. It was about the game slowing down and a player reacting to something that simply can’t be simulated in practice.
“He’s such an intelligent player,” Faircloth said. “Games don’t always go like practice, no matter how good the scout team is that week. If it doesn’t’ go like coach says, a good player reacts. Kyler can not only do that, reacting to what he sees on the fly, but also line up the guy next to him correctly.”
Nicotre has also had to break in a new guard in sophomore Steven Mangini. That process hasn’t been easy, but eight games in, things have settled down a bit for the pair.
“It’s been interesting,” Nicotre said. “I was in his spot, so I knew what he was going through. I have to help him out a lot, but I like working with him. He’s a good left guard and a good guy. I love working next to him. At the beginning of the season, he was hesitant to ask or do anything. Now, it’s the eighth game and we’re really clicking on our chemistry.”
The responsibility Nicotre has felt this year is real, as Faircloth has put pressure on him in a good way.
“We put a lot on him, not just to make sure he’s doing his job, but to make sure the other guys are getting it done,” Faircloth said. “I’ve joked with him when someone else misses a block, ‘Hey, what’s going on out there? You need to get that cleaned up.’ It’s only half-joking, though, because we expect a lot from him with his experience.”
While Nicotre hasn’t gotten any scholarship offers yet, he’d like to play football in college. He’s also not sure what he’d like to major in, but is considering coaching as one of those possibilities. His experience this season has certainly made him think about that more and more.
“I’ve taken a lot of pride in (helping the guys),” Nicotre said. “Gabe, Lumpy, Ben Parks and all those guys have done it and passed it back to me. Every time we walk to the sidelines, we have to talk about what the defense is doing. I like that.”
INDIAN INKLINGS: Nicotre’s favorite block of the season came against Texas City. He pulled out on a screen play and got matched up on a cornerback. “He really didn’t (stand much of a chance,” Nicotre said. …This Friday marks the final home game of the regular season for PN-G and, as such, will be the Indians’ homecoming. The team will participate in the homecoming parade Thursday at 6:30 p.m. … Linebacker Lance Louviere will miss this week’s game against Vidor with an apparent injury he suffered against LC-M. Scott Stewart will move over and take Louivere’s responsibilities with defensive lineman Josh Riley starting as well. Both offensive linemen Justin Reasons and Nikolas Stasinos are both expected back into the starting lineup as well. … The last time this set of players faced off was two years ago for the JV teams. PN-G won a shootout 50-43 with both Chase Bertrand and David Bollinger scoring multiple touchdowns . . . Although Ozen at Nederland is the official Port Arthur News Friday Night Experience telecast this week, video of the PN-G-Vidor game, complete with the announcing of Joe Arnold and Paul Brown, will also be posted at www.panews.com on Monday.