The Port Arthur News
Every team always mirrors its coach.... uhhh, not quite every team. Nederland kept its composure Saturday while Larry Neumann, by his own admission, did not.
One blowup aside, the fifth-rated Class 4A team in the state’s final Associated Press poll conducted itself with the poise of a bidistrict champion at Provost-Umphrey Stadium, roaring to a 21-7 victory over Dayton.
Every well-publicized NHS hero lived up to his advance billing while a few new ones added their names to the Bulldogs marquee as Nederland (10-1) advanced to the 4A area round next Friday night against Pflugerville Connally (8-3). They will square off at Shenandoah’s Woodforest Bank Stadium at a time still to be determined.
Nederland took its 13th bidistrict football crown in 20 Neumann-coached seasons before the winningest coach in Bulldogs history gave out an apology to his players for blowing his top.
Dayton, down 21-0 with 9:07 left, narrowed the scoreboard gap to its final count midway in the fourth quarter when Larry turned livid. A Dallas-chapter officiating crew ruled Dayton (9-2) recovered an onside kick which appeared to trickle out of bounds on the Broncos sideline before any player gained control of the ball.
An irate Neumann visited with the officials at midfield and, fortunately, avoided receiving any penalty for being well out of the coaching box. But he never received an interpretation on the decision to award possession to Dayton.
“I apologized to our team for it,” Neumann said. “At the pressure of the situation, I shouldn’t have lost my composure. I lost control of myself. You’re not supposed to lose your composure out there... I definitely did... Enough about me.”
Yes indeed, enough. Carson Raines deserves more attention. How about six carries for 115 yards, one 57-yard scoring run and two touchdown passes? He’s a polished senior quarterback who runs the offense effectively.
Then there’s Kendrick Hopkins — 26 jabs into Dayton’s defense for 133 yards.
If there’s a better defensive line in this part of the state than DeShawn Washington, Koby Couron, Brock Pryor and Caleb Malveaux, it probably would belong to the Houston Texans.
Those are the marquee names. But Colton Kimler is not a normal hero on offense. Neither is Brock Pryor. Each one had to step up and perform there Saturday. And offensive coordinator Monte Barrow seldom gets his name in the paper, either, except for coaching softball.
A starting junior defensive back, the 6-1 Kimler runs a deceptive 4.6 in the 40. If a defense expects a run, he welcomes a tall lob against a shorter defensive back. That’s what he did on the opening play of the second quarter. Raines flipped it 38 yards following a play-action fake.
The play selection — Raines to Kimler — was dialed up by Barrow, who calls every single one of Nederland’s snaps these days.
“Colton hadn’t been that big of a factor on offense before today but not because of his skill level by any means,” Barrow said. “It was all about matchups and Colton is a tough match for a defensive back. We wanted to check to him.
“Maybe it helps that Colton is not such a big guy on video (in previous game highlights).”
Barrow exhibited outstanding patience with his play calls. Nederland threw it 22 times and ran it 36 times. They never lost their cool, unlike their coach, and they never got discouraged. Nederland’s offensive coordinator received a great compliment from his tailback for the offense’s game plan.
“We’re a balanced team,” Hopkins said. “We can run it when we need to and throw it when we need to. It was just a physical game. That’s why I had (so many carries).”
Dayton permitted Hopkins virtually five yards a pop. That’s a tribute to new blocker Pryor and a solid line led by center Cole Brown. Nederland showed its balance, patience and ball-control ability, going 87 yards in 12 plays for its second touchdown. Raines pumped once and Kimler dashed behind his defender on a 34-yard scoring reception with 1:35 left in the half.
Hopkins carried seven straight times for 52 yards during a superb third-quarter possession which ended scoreless after Tanner Noel’s 42-yard field goal sailed wide left.
Raines made two well-timed cuts during a 57-yard scoring journey with 9:18 to play. Fittingly as the Nederland QB headed to the end zone, his final downfield blocking shield came from Kimler, who truly made sensational catches earlier.
“Carson was on point (target) and his offensive line gave him great protection,” said Kimler. “Dayton didn’t quit. They kept fighting.”
Dayton tried plenty of sideways movement on this day and the end duo of Couron and Washington swallowed up plenty. The Broncos converted three times on fourth down, throwing over the middle during a 75-yard, 14-play series. Kimler said his Big Ned defense did not focus as much late in the game on Dayton’s underneath series.
Neumann, however, thought his team got tired late in the game. Neumann’s players will not get tired of their coach’s post-game apologies, though... as long as the Bulldogs win.