It's the loss that still stings Lufkin Panther fans today, and the season ending loss that haunts the Pack like a living nightmare.
It's come full circle now. Lufkin will be opening their season against the Longview Lobos who closed the chapter of last year’s playoff run. Seeking revenge is an understatement for Lufkin.
“It's going to be a war. The best man’s going to win,” said Lufkin defensive end Bronson Massie.
“I think my team is really going to show up and I think we can really beat Lufkin,” said Longview running back Tylan Miller.
If this rivalry didn't have enough heated history already, Lufkin losing to Longview in the last 31 seconds of the playoffs last year by a two-point conversion certainly didn't help.
Not only that, but Lufkin had a 28-0 lead at half. That lead was quickly stripped out from under them as they were handed a 43-42 loss at the end of four quarters.
“The whole team is fired up. We're angry because it wasn't supposed to end like that last year,” said Massie. “We're ready to get on the field Friday.”
“You don't forget that. You don't forget that feeling and it’s our job and responsibility to not let them forget how that felt,” said head coach Todd Quick.
Quick mentioned the team simply did not finish the game. Finishing out an entire four quarters seemed to be a theme for Lufkin all season.
The Panthers lost a total of five games last year by a combined 20 points.
“We went through five last year that were less than five points each and three of the five were in the last 30 seconds of the game,” said Quick. “We talked about that all spring and all summer that we didn't finish. We started something, came out quick, got ahead and we didn’t finish the game. It's been a focus of ours to finish a drill, finish an assignment, and finish everything we do.”
Finishing strong for the Pack means they have to start strong too, and they definitely won't need any more motivation for that.
“They posted a picture of last year in their locker room. They posted it yesterday and it got the whole team mad about that,” said Massie.
Tensions will be high but Lufkin learned the hard way on how to handle those emotions entering the Lobo game this year.
“It will be very emotional for these kids. We just have to make sure they don't spend it all early and that we stay flat lined. We can’t get too high or too low,” said Quick.
Lufkin will be traveling to Longview for Friday’s season opener. The game starts at 7:30 p.m.
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