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Defensive improvement will be key for the Robert E. Lee Ganders and Edgar Pulido, 23, tonight when they open district play 7:30 p.m. tonight at Port Neches-Groves.

Improved Ganders football team faces stern test at PN-G tonight

It’s not the be-all end-all for the Robert E. Lee Ganders football team tonight.

No, but its 7:30 p.m. game at Port Neches-Groves is not just a District 12-5A II opener, but it signals the first opportunity for REL to announce officially they are indeed back as a player amongst the elite.

REL (3-0) has averaged over 60 points per contest in its unbeaten start, winning by a margin of 40 points per outing.

But in reality, they have faced no one yet, the caliber of the Indians, one of Texas’ legendary football programs and fan bases.

PN-G won 28-9 at Tomball two weeks ago while the Ganders overcame a sluggish second quarter to roll past Galena Park, 54-27.

The two heavyweights now aim to get out in front of what promises to be a strong district race.

“When you talk about PN-G, their tradition, their attendance, their following, is probably second to none,” REL head coach Tim Finn said. “Their fans are all behind them and it’s a program that means a ton to their community. Their expectations are tremendously high. Their kids, from kindergarten on, talk about playing on that field.”

Finn has addressed with his players the need to play their game and not get caught up in playing the name on the jersey on the other side of the trenches.

“We will, no doubt, have to play our best game of the year so far,” Finn said. “But we have to go out and do what we do and not worry about who the opponent is across the line when the game is going on.

“It’s got to be more about us and having our ‘A’ game ready.”

The bye week was disrupted a bit by the effects of Tropical Storm Imelda, but the past two weeks has allowed REL coaches to work out the kinks that remained on defense.

“Galena Park had some elusive players we hadn’t seen,” Finn said. “A part of tackling is how you prepare. We didn’t prepare like we should have. We didn’t run to the football like we had the first two games. It was a good lesson: If we don’t bring it, we are going to struggle.”

In last year’s 49-28 win in Baytown over REL, PN-G sophomore quarterback Blake Bost had a big second half.

“He’s definitely a play maker as a dual-threat guy,” Finn said. “They don’t design a lot of run plays for him, but he can tuck it and run. They spread the ball around and they can throw it. He’s got quality receivers in  Kaleb Wuenschel and Peyton Proenza.”

Gander senior Jacorey Green says the REL players recognize the moment in front of them.

“It’s a big opportunity to be able to have a chance to beat one of the top teams in the district,” he said. “We know we have to take things seriously and playing football is about working on yourself and not worrying about who the opponent is.”

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