(Orange, Texas)

October 9, 2013

Surging Bears ready to face "Top Dawgs"

Van Wade
The Orange Leader

NEDERLAND — It would be sweet for Little Cypress-Mauriceville fans if their Battlin’ Bears could produce a little “Mid-County Magic” for the second week in a row.

The Bears (2-2, 2-0), who throttled Port Neches-Groves 31-14 at The Reservation last week to ruin the Indians’ Homecoming, will try to do the same this Friday when they visit Nederland (4-1, 2-0).

Many predictors in the preseason had Nederland winning the district. Smart choice, after all, the Bulldogs have went 27-5 over their last two campaigns and have won back-to-back District 20-4A titles.

“Last week’s win was tremendous,” said Bear coach Randy Crouch. “We played so well on both sides of the ball in a hostile environment. We’re going to another one Friday night and we’re facing one heckuva program. Coach Larry Nuemann and his staff have done an amazing job year-in and year-out there and they have another tremendous team this year.”

The Bears, meanwhile, were picked in the middle of the pack.

LC-M, however, might just like flying under the radar after starting 20-4A play off at 2-0 after also defeating Livingston 28-21 in their district opener.

The Bears are tied with Nederland and Beaumont Central (3-2, 2-0) for first after two weeks.

The Bears downed PN-G by literally grounding out the Indians.

Even with leading rusher Jalen Griffin out, LC-M turned to their powerful offensive line and backs Brandon Toliver and Robert Green.

Toliver piled up 148 yards on 22 carries and Green contributed 101 more on 22 carries.

“Our offensive line put forth a super effort and our little backs really rose up to the challenge and ran hard all night in moving the chains,” said Crouch.”

Griffin still leads the overall ground game with 342 yards on 66 carries.

Bear quarterback Caleb Harley has completed 30-of-58 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns. Receiver Dalton Doyle has been his favorite target as he’s hauled in 14 receptions for 238 yards and three scores.

The Bears will be walking into perhaps 20-4A’s toughest defensive unit. One that is led by defensive end DeShawn Washington and defensive tackle Caleb Malveaux.

Those two are a “big” reason why the Bulldogs stymied Vidor 31-10 in their 20-4A opener and then pitched a 24-0 shutout on the road at Livingston last week.

“Those two guys are amazing,” said Crouch. “They’re big but they’re also extremely athletic. They have an excellent pair of linebackers and a good secondary too. They’re going to be a challenge for us, that’s for sure.”

The Bulldogs are averaging more than 390 yards a game on offense.

Quarterback Preston White has completed 49-of-83 passes for 774 yards and nine TDs to go along with four picks. His favorite receiving weapon is Colton Kimler, who has 20 catches for 439 yards and five TDs.

The Bulldogs can always turn the ball over to tailback Kendrick Hopkins. Hopkins, a All-District performer last season, has 692 yards and six TDs on 115 carries.

“Hopkins is a tremendous back and he’s one that will always fight for that extra yardage,” said Crouch. “Their quarterback is playing well and they have a couple good receivers and I think their fullback is outstanding.”

LC-M will look to be opportunistic again this week after a stout defensive effort against the Indians in which they collected five turnovers, including four interceptions, while limiting PN-G to just 241 yards.

“Defensively, we were happy with the way we flew to the football,” said Crouch. “We were able to create some turnovers and hopefully we can do that again because turnovers are so critical. We like what we’ve been able to do the last two weeks. But we also have to understand that it isn’t a sprint. I’d like to say we’re just on the third mile of what is a very tough seven-mile journey.”

The Bears fell to the Bulldogs 35-21 last season at Battlin’ Bear Stadium but LC-M trailed just 21-14 with 4:16 remaining as they were driving into Bulldog territory before a couple turnovers late turned the tide around for the Bulldogs. Both teams had 296 yards.

The Bears will return home next week to take on Beaumont Ozen while the Bulldogs will remain at home to host PN-G for Mid-County Madness.