It's pretty simple, most people north of the Angelina river do not like the Panthers. While those south of the Angelina are not very fond of the Dragons at all either. Lufkin versus Nacogdoches is an East Texas rivalry that dates back to when the two teams shared a district. The disdain for one another goes back generations.
"With the closeness of the two cities you are going to have people who don't like each other," said Todd Quick, Lufkin's head coach. "Their grandpa's didn't like each other either. It is just something that the kids grow up with. We went to the 7th grade game this week and they already have a dislike for each other in the 7th grade. You need that rivalry, you need that feeling and it just brings out the best in the kids."
Nacogdoches' new head coach Bobby Reyes would of course love to shock the Panthers tonight. But he says putting something in the win column is most important.
"It would be great to beat Lufkin, but not just because it is Lufkin, but because we get a win and get ourselves on track and give our kids confidence," said Reyes. "That is the biggest thing we need to give our kids some confidence and a win would do just that."
Meanwhile when we talked to players this week they were not as held back as their coaches about why they just do not like each other.
"I guess it's just the way they play and the effort they put into it," said Lufkin offensive lineman Leroy Hurtz. "We are disgusted by it and we just don't like it."
"It is a tradition thing, our dads hated Lufkin so it is just in our blood," said Nacogdoches defensive end Greg Roberts. "They talk a lot of smack and I guess it is just in us to hate Lufkin as Nacogdoches people."
The rivalry has been a bit one sided lately though. In fact the Dragons have not won since 1992. That means no senior who plays for either team was even alive yet the last time Nacogdoches beat Lufkin. The Panthers and their fans do not want that streak to end Friday night.
"In class I had a conversation with this fan and she said if y'all lose to Nacogdoches I am not coming to anymore games," said Lufkin's Jomal Davis.
So what is in store in the next chapter of this East Texas rivalry, the same old thing, or a shocking win? We will find out tonight under the lights of Abe Martin Stadium as kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in Lufkin.