LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - It is mid-November and the Lufkin Panthers are ready to make some noise in the new 5A-DI Playoff bracket.
First up for the Pack is a matchup with McKinney North on Friday night at Abe Martin Stadium.
Lufkin enters the game at 9-1. The only loss of the season came in week 1 when the Panthers lost to 6A #4 Longview 35-28. Since the loss Lufkin has steamrolled through opponents, outscoring the nine of them 405-88.
“I knew this is where we wanted to be coming into the season,” quarterback Kewone Thomas said. “I knew we had a tough pre-district with Longview but I knew after that we were going to stick it out and just play.”
The team had a lot of expectations. In 2017, The Pack went four rounds deep in the 6A DII playoffs, losing to Longview by a single point in the state quarterfinals. With realignment sending the Panthers down to the new 5A DI, a lot of hype was put into the team. With no break out star this year, the Panthers are winning games with their depth on offense and on Defense it is a who’s who of some of the top defensive players in the region. Lufkin boasts one of the best defensive lines in all of the state.
“We don’t take it for granted,” defensive end Breylon Garcia said. “Last year we had Isaiah Phillips and Malik Jackson and I think we took it for granted and didn’t go all the way. This year we are going.”
With the stakes higher, head coach Todd Quick is not changing a thing. The Practice schedules remain the same. The intensity remains the same.
“What these kids have done form week 1 to week 12 they should be commended for that,” Quick said. “All the teams should be. The kids have worked hard to get here. You do not talk your way into this position. Now you have to get it done.”