LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The Lufkin Panthers are experiencing flashbacks as they gear up for the bi-district round of playoffs but are hoping for a much better result.
Lufkin and Longview are set to face off again in a rivalry the Panthers have grown painfully familiar with. Lufkin has lost the past two meetings against the Lobos. What makes the back-to-back loses even more gut wrenching is that both of those games were just one-point deficits.
The Lobos ended the Panther's season last year and this year Lufkin's looking to return the favor.
When it was announced Lufkin would meet Longview once again as their first hurdle in playoffs, the Panthers were thrilled.
"It is Lufkin-Longview and there's no other game like it. You can't compare that to any other game," said Lufkin head coach Todd Quick.
"I'm more ready for this game than I've ever been. We're very upbeat. Everyone's fired up ready to go. Everyone's ready to get after it," said senior Jerrod Johnson.
Ready to redeem themselves, the Panther's said they wouldn't have wanted to play anyone else but Longview.
Lufkin is hopeful they can win the 78th meeting between the two, a series Longview currently leads with a tight 37-36-4 record.
"You don't forget it. Even though it's a new group, you don't forget the last time you played so it will be a good contest," said Quick. "Both teams will get after each other. Both of the teams have a great following and both teams know each other so they're excited and we're excited."
"We got to show up. Everyone's got to play hard. We have to have a great week of practice," said Johnson.
Lufkin has only won one game out of the past five contests, after stomping Longview in last year's season opener 44-14.
Since then Lufkin has suffered a season ending 43-42 loss last year to only turn around and start this year with a 21-20 loss.
"I'm thankful we get to play them this time to redeem ourselves from earlier this season," said Johnson.
These familiar foes both enter this game finishing at the top of their districts, and both teams ride into the bi-district on four-game win streaks. However, only one team will be able to extend that record come Friday.
"You know exactly what you're going to get. They know what they're going to get, the kids know each other and you don't have to stand right here to get someone pumped up about that. They know, and we're going to get after it," said Quick.
Like last year, Lufkin and Longview will meet at Tyler Rose Stadium Friday night. Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
Longview had a three-way tie to clinch their district and take the No. 1 seed entering this game, while a young Lufkin team stepped up to finish second in the "District of Boom" to take the No. 2 seed.