Last October as Nederland was holding off a furious rally by PNG, news started to spread in the stands. Legendary Oilers head coach Bum Phillips had passed away at age 90. The news was hard on both sides of the field that night, considering Bum coached both the Bulldogs and Indians along the way.
His memory will live on in the form of the Bum Phillips Bowl trophy, featuring Bum's iconic cowboy hat. The yearly winner of Mid-County Madness will have their school name engraved on the trophy presented by the Port Arthur News.
"It took my breath away to start with," said son Wade Phillips. "It's obviously very special for our family. It's something great. I get chills about it."
The former Texans defensive coordinator added, "it meant a lot to him and being on both sides of the rivalry, you know I was a kid on both sides. I played in high school at Port Neches, but my younger years I was in Nederland so you know he loved both of them and they loved him. We appreciate it."
Nederland's Larry Neumann is also excited about the new trophy. "The uniqueness about this situation is that Bum Phillips had a vested interest in both programs. He's been in this battle on both sidelines. You know that to me made this very meaningful. It's going to advance it even more and pay homage to a guy that you know was not just a great football coach but a great man."
PNG's Brandon Faircloth echoed the feelings of Nederland's top dog. "I didn't think the game could get any bigger, I honestly didn't. You know with the coverage in the state of Texas and from all the local media that we already get plus the twelve to fifteen thousand fans that are already there, but now with this trophy as big and as great as it is to be able to put your football team's name on it you know it does make it a little more special."
Of course the big question is who will be win the the first trophy? "That's a great question," said Faircloth.
Neumann was quick joked that the Indians should be favored. "I think that you really got to pick PNG all the way because it's going to be at our place you know." Faircloth was fast to respond, "that's a reason to pick PNG? Because the game is at your place?"
The long-time Nederland head coach did have a more serious response. "I don't know. I tell you what I've said this just about every year I've been in this event. If you don't prepare to expect to have to win the last play to win the game then you're not preparing the right way. That's what a great rivalry game is you know. It's up for grabs every year."
PNG's chief had the same feelings. "Every year it comes down to one or two plays, it really does. You don't know what one or two plays it's going to be. It could be the opening kickoff. It could be a fourth down at the end of the fourth quarter so we prepare the same way. It's going to be an awesome game."