MID-COUNTY - Call Port Neches-Groves high school and this is the first thing you will hear:
“If you are calling about tickets to Mid-County Madness, the Port Neches-Groves vs. Nederland game, there are no adult tickets.”
Sold out, that is a term that you have to get used to when it comes to Mid-County Madness, because the madness is no exaggeration with this historic rivalry between the Nederland Bulldogs, and the Port Neches – Groves Indians. Just ask Tom Halliburton, former longtime sports reporter for the Port Arthur News, who coined the term Mid-County Madness, back in 1978.
“It just fit,” recalled Halliburton, now working with the Beaumont Enterprise part-time. “And it just made sense to both sides. I don’t really consider it really anything close to the greatest thing I ever did as a writer, but it may be the most lasting thing.”
It’s safe to say the term has taken hold, and the rivalry is ingrained, almost from birth.
“These kids grow up together, they go to church together, they play little league baseball together,” said PN-G Head Coach, Brandon Faircloth. “They know each other really well, so I think that’s what makes it special.”
With over 10 thousand people in the stands on Friday night, it might be hard for both teams not get lost in the lights. Just ask the seniors, now veterans to the madness.
“It’s awesome the environment here is unbelievable, and with all the people here, it’s like we are playing in a college football game,” said Indians Senior Linebacker, Austin Bost. “You couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Nederland Senior Wide Receiver, Kevon Latulas says you have to try and drown out the noise.
“It’s different from a regular Friday night. It’s the biggest game in Texas, it feels like you’re in a college football game, but you can’t worry about that,” said Latulas. “You just have to focus on the game.”
For Nederland Head Coach Monte Barrow, who has been with the district for over 20 years, he understands the scale of the game, and hopes his players relish the experience.
“You hope that the kids, that the players realize it,” said Barrow, in his first year as the Bulldog’s Head Coach. “They probably won’t at this time, but later on down the road, they’ll look back on it and realize how special it was to play in front of a crowd like that.”
Because according to Halliburton, this rivalry matches any in sports.
“Texas/Oklahoma, Army/Navy, USC/UCLA,” said Halliburton. “It’s unpredictable, and that’s the great thing about sports.”
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