The Nederland Bulldogs came within one game of making the playoffs in 2016, but instead they stayed home for the first time in nine years.
Nederland tied for fifth place in District 22-5A after posting a 4-4 record, but they were two points away from winning a fourth-place tie and getting into postseason.
The Bulldogs began the season with a 42-0 loss at West Orange-Stark and one-point loss to Dayton. They lost three of their first four district games and won three of their last four, including a 28-21 win over Beaumont Central, which made the playoffs. Had Nederland prevailed over Vidor, the Bulldogs would’ve gotten in. But instead, the Pirates walked away with a 29-28 win.
Nederland had made the playoffs eight straight seasons before missing out in 2016. The Bulldogs had a young team in last year, and many key components will be back this fall to try and start a new playoff roll.
WR Conner Perkins, OL Corbin Smith, S Ty Sheppard
Perkins was a first-team all-district selection while fellow receiver Dean Fisher was a second-team pick. The Bulldogs lose Corbin Smith and Burke Badon on the offensive line and Ty Sheppard has moved on.
DL Tiren Forney, ATH Devon Simmons, CB Noah Lewis
Linebacker Brady Spell made 130 tackles last season and defensive lineman Forney recorded eight sacks.
Simmons had 909 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns last fall and Noah Lewis was the district’s Newcomer of the Year last season as a sophomore.
A new era begins this week in Nederland as longtime offensive coordinator takes over as head coach after the departure of Larry Neumann.
He’ll need that offense churning quickly as the two-time defending 4A state champion West Orange-Stark Mustangs come for a visit. Nederland travels to Dayton in Week 2, and then visits Livingston to start district in Week 3.
The schedule sets up favorably as perennial powers Port Arthur Memorial and Port Neches-Groves make the short trip to Nederland. The Bulldogs also get Baytown Lee and Beaumont Ozen at home and have district road trips to Vidor, Beaumont Central and Lumberton.
Should Nederland make the postseason, they’ll most likely go the Division I route as they are the third-largest school behind PA Memorial and Baytown Lee. Memorial will most likely make the playoffs, and Lee will need a drastic turnaround to see the playoffs.
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