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Indians excited about opportunity to dethrone top-ranked Cougars

PORT NECHES — With a share of the District 12-5A Division II title still in their grasp, the Port Neches-Groves Indians head to Crosby in a true test of strength on strength.

The Indians (4-3, 3-1) will take on the district-leading Cougars (5-2, 4-0) at Cougar Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday.

A win against the Cougars puts the Indians in position for a share of the district title.

“(My message to the team has been to) go compete,” PNG head coach Brandon Faircloth said. “They are in first place and we are in second. Let’s go compete. Let’s go fight. Let’s go be relentless and let’s go find a way.”

PNG enters the game with the district’s most potent offense, which leads in passing and rushing categories. Crosby is second in both categories.

PNG senior quarterback Blake Bost, who is coming off a performance where he accounted for seven touchdowns, leads the district, by a fair amount, in completions (137), attempts (238), passing yards (1,668) and passing touchdowns (18).

Bost was named the Built Ford Tough Player of the Week for his performance against Kingwood Park last week.

He completed 20 of 26 passes for 234 yards and four touchdown passes in PNG’s 62-35 win over Kingwood Park. He also rushed for 127 yards on 17 carries and three more TDs.

While the quarterback has been careful with the ball, throwing only three interceptions on the year, he will have to be extra cautious throwing against a Cougar defense that has forced a district-high seven picks on the season.

“They are a good team,” Bost said. “I just have to take what they give me and find the open guys and we will be fine.”

PNG is tied for the best turnover ratio with plus-3. The game could come down to PNG not making the crucial mistakes that plagued them in last year’s 13-7 loss to the Cougars. The Indians turned the ball over four times with one fumble being returned for six.

“They are a great team,” Faircloth said. “They do a great job of breaking on the ball. We will have to do a great job on offense of taking what they give us and protecting the football. Field position will be really important as well.”

One area Crosby might look to exploit is the PNG run defense. The PNG defense ranks second to last in yards allowed per game and second to last in rushing yards allowed.

Crosby senior quarterback Reggie Branch leads the Cougars rushing attack with 674 yards and seven TDs. He also leads the district in yards per carry with 8.3.

Faircloth said he hopes the recent resurgence of the PNG run game, led by running back Lance Vaughn, eases some of the workload for Bost, who is also second in the district with 102 carries.

“We always have designed quarterback runs,” Faircloth said. “Depending on the situation, we will still go to them. I am very proud of our offensive line, Coach (Charlie) Feller, Coach (Peter) Medlock. They have gotten those guys to jell really well together. Lance, Dejaunte (Conner) and Blake have been the beneficiaries. They have played well and had great practices. We are really proud of how they have played these past couple of weeks.”

 

District 12-5A Division II standings

Team; Dist.; Over.

Crosby; 4-0; 5-2

Nederland; 3-1; 4-2

Port Neches-Groves; 3-1; 4-3

Barbers Hill; 3-1; 3-3

Kingwood Park; 1-3; 2-5

Santa Fe; 1-3; 2-5

Texas City; 1-3; 1-5

Dayton; 0-4; 0-7

 

Thursday

Santa Fe at Kingwood Park

 

Friday

Nederland at Barbers Hill

Texas City at Dayton

Port Neches-Groves at Crosby