Chapel Hill Battles Port Neches-Groves On Friday In Lufkin, Looking For Back-To-Back Wins
Chapel Hill Bulldogs (1-2)
Port Neches-Groves Indians (1-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Abe Martin Stadium, Lufkin
- Chapel Hill: Thomas Sitton
- Port Neches-Groves: Brandon Faircloth
- Chapel Hill: def. Paris, 51-41
- Port Neches-Groves: idle
- Chapel Hill: vs. Tatum, Sept. 26
- Port Neches-Groves: vs. Baytown Lee, Sept. 26
- FB/LB Reggie King, Jr., 5-11, 205 (19 carries, 111 yards, 5 TDs; 10 catches, 74 yards, 1 TD)
- WR/LB Deundre Phillips, Jr., 5-8, 180 (8 catches, 145 yards, 1 TD)
- RB/LB Delenis Garrett, Sr., 5-9, 200
- OL/DL Jeremy West, Jr., 6-3, 270
- WR Jeffery Minor, Sr., 6-0, 170 (10 catches, 133 yards, 2 TDs)
- QB Konnor Hitchcock, Jr., 5-8, 160 (42 of 75, 528 yards, 5 TDs, 3 INTs)
- OL/DL Rex Cicero, Sr., 6-2, 245
- RB/DB Ja'Braylon Franklin, Jr. (17 carries, 171 yards; 3 catches, 35 yards)
- QB Adam Morse, Jr. (43 of 68, 637 yards, 6 TDs, 3 INTs)
- WR Kaleb Sparks, Sr. (19 catches, 237 yards, 2 TDs)
- WR Jack Giblin, Jr. (14 catches, 266 yards, 3 TDs)
- RB Brant Halfin, Sr., 5-9, 175 (37 carries, 130 yards, 1 TD)
- LB Michael Hughes, Sr., 5-11, 185
- CB Ky Walker, Sr.
- WR Caisen Sullivan, Jr., 6-0, 180
- K Brant Dykes, Fr., 5-8, 140
Just the facts
- This is the first-ever meeting between Chapel Hill and Port Neches-Groves
- Port Neches-Groves has won three state championships in its program's history -- 1953, 1955 and 1975.
- Through three games, Chapel Hill is averaging 36.7 points and 325 yards per game -- 149 rushing and 176 passing.
- Chapel Hill junior fullback Reggie King has scored six of Chapel Hill's 10 offensive touchdowns this season.
- The last time Chapel Hill began a season 1-3 was 2012.
- Through two games, Port Neches-Groves is averaging 32.5 points and 398 yards per game -- 79.5 rushing and 318.5 passing.
- Port Neches-Groves receivers Jack Giblin and Kaleb Sparks have combined for 76.7 percent of the team's receptions and 79 percent of the receiving yards.
- PNG is a member of District 22-5A, along with Baytown Goose Creek Memorial, Baytown Lee, Beaumont Central, Beaumont Ozen, Lumberton, Nederland and Vidor.
Key matchup: Port Neches-Groves passing game vs. Chapel Hill secondary. Through two games, the Port Neches-Grove passing attack has been on fire, averaging more than 300 yards through the air in games against Houston Clear Lake and West Orange-Stark. Junior quarterback Adam Morse has been been in command of the Indians' offense, and while the rushing game has yet to eclipse more than 100 years in a game this season, the Indians have been getting it done through the air. Port Neches-Groves has a pair of receivers that has been responsible for most of the damage. Kaleb Sparks and Jack Giblin have been Morse's primary targets, and have proven to be difficult covers for opposing secondaries. Giblin has been more effective downfield, averaging 19 yards per reception with a team-best three touchdown catches. Sparks leads the team in receptions, and himself, averages more than 12 yards per catch. According to the Port Arthur News, Morse set a school record with 383 passing yards in the Indians' 38-13 season-opening win over Clear Lake. He was 26 of 38 passing with four touchdowns and one interception in the record-setting performance. A week later at West Orange-Stark, Morse was less efficient -- completing 17 of 30 attempts for 253 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. A strong performance from the Chapel Hill secondary could make Port Neches-Groves more vulnerable on offense.
Therein lies the dilemma for Chapel Hill, which is extremely young in the secondary. The Bulldogs' defense has struggled so far this season against the pass. In Chapel Hill's last two games against Whitehouse and Paris, the Bulldogs have allowed 553 passing yards and four touchdowns, giving up a combined 93 points in the process. PN-G has a massive size advantage along the offensive line, so applying a steady pass rush without bringing extra pressure could prove problematic for Chapel Hill. If that is the case, a small and rather inexperienced defensive backfield will be counted upon to make plays against the Indians' top two receiving targets. If Chapel Hill is able to match up favorably in the secondary, the Indians may be forced to into running the ball, which has been an issue for PN-G so far this season. Through two games, the Indians have rushed for just 159 yards, while averaging only 2.2 yards per carry.
Don't be surprised if: Chapel Hill tries to establishing its running game early against Port Neches-Groves. The Bulldogs, while operating out of a hurry-up spread attack, are at their best when their stable of running backs are picking up huge chunks of yardage a time. So far this season, Chapel Hill is averaging just 149 rushing yards per game -- well below its average of 292.9 from last season. Junior quarterback Konnor Hitchcock has had his moments of strong play in his first three games as a varsity starting quarterback, but the lack of a consistent running game has put the young signal-caller in a difficult position. Turnovers in the passing game have come at inopportune times in the early going, but with more success on the ground, Chapel Hill can afford not to put the ball in the air as much, decreasing the risk of backbreaking turnovers. A strong running game will also limit the amount of time Port Neches-Groves' potent passing attack is on the field, which could be key against what to this point has been an underperforming secondary.