LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The deep-seated rivalry between Nacogdoches and Lufkin has always been the glue when it comes to East Texas sports. But this year's first district football game between the two teams is expected to be one for the books.
The two teams will go head-to-head on Friday, and after a surprising win by Nacogdoches last year, this year's game sold out within a matter of days.
"No doubt. It's Lufkin/Nacogdoches. And there's a lot to be said about that," said Bobby Reyes, the Nacogdoches High School head football coach.
The rivalry is known to get a few East Texans' blood boiling throughout the years. But this year, the Panthers said they are in it to win it.
"It's a lot that goes into it. It's a lot of energy; just a lot of emotions that go along with it. So, we got to come out and play fast," said Terry Mark, a senior wide receiver for the Lufkin Panthers.
Lufkin has always been on top when it comes to football, some residents said. But with last year's loss, Coach Todd Quick said he has some new ways to keep his players on top of their game.
"We have to protect the ball. We can't give an offense like that more touches than they are going to get. We have to finish the drives, get some type of points, whether it be a touchdown or a field goal," Quick said.
Nacogdoches had a Cinderella story last year, and are hoping the glass slipper will fit perfectly during Friday's game. However, they do admit that Lufkin is a good team, but they are itching to get back into the game.
"Everybody [is] excited. Like the game sold out in like three days. It gets us ready knowing that we have a lot of support around us," said Nacogdoches senior receiver Duntavian Thomas.
"We just try to treat it like a normal week. We understand, and the kids understand that it's important. It's the first district game. We know we have to prepare. We know Lufkin's very good. We know that we've got to get ourselves ready to face a very good football team, and that's what we're trying to get the kids to do," Reyes said.
The game will start at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 26 at the Dragon Stadium at 4310 Appleby Sand Road.