Meeting for the 98th time, the Lufkin-Nacogdoches rivalry has only magnified over the years.
Nacogdoches has won the past two meetings, and if there's one guy they're keeping their eyes on it's Lufkin's Bronson Massie. The senior defensive end is sure to make it a battle in the trenches for the Dragon's offensive line.
“He’s is a beast. He's a terrific player,” said head coach Bobby Reyes. “He plays hard every play. He's just an outstanding talent and he's a load.”
Massie has a hand full of D1 collegiate offers and is the guy not only Nacogdoches but most schools are worried about when it comes to playing Lufkin.
“I think we're playing the best team we've played yet and maybe the most talented team we play all year long. They're loaded with talent,” said Reyes.
Dragons head coach Bobby Reyes is expecting Friday's theme to be a battle in the trenches, and whoever wins that battle will end up winning the war.
“Their two interior defensive tackles, they got them listed at 220 but I think they're probably more like 260,” said Reyes. “The other defensive end is a very good player, so their front four are impressive to me. They get after it and cause a lot of problems.”
The only problem for Nacogdoches is that their offensive line is young. The Dragons have just one starter who returned to this year's team.
“It's a challenge with a new offensive line, but as I said before, at some point you got to quit saying ‘new’ and ‘young.’ We just got to get out there and get after it,” said Reyes. “We’ll get some wins just like they're going to get some wins, so we just have to be patient.”
The guy Massie and his boys in battle are targeting is Nacogdoches quarterback Noah Hildebrand.
“He throws pretty good and when the defensive line chases after him it’s different,” said Massie. “When the line chases him, he won't be sitting in the pocket like that.”
Hildebrand, a Louisiana transfer, will be coming into this game with a fresh perspective and admits this is the biggest rivalry he's ever been a part of.
“Even before I moved over here, the first time coming down here people said, ‘You'll never be in a bigger game than Lufkin,’” said Hildebrand. “You just got to look at it as a normal game, but also realize there's going to be a ton of people there. It's going to be hyped and everybody’s excited.”
As far as Hildebrand's offensive line being able to protect him in the pocket, the quarterback is confident his guys will step up.
“I think our offensive line's going to do a great job and protect me, make holes for our running back, and I got faith in all my receivers to catch the ball. I think we can take advantage of that,” said Hildebrand.
This game will be hosted at Abe Martin Stadium in Lufkin starting at 7:30 Friday night.
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