NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Some loses sting more than others, and if there's one game Nacogdoches wishes they could have back from last year, it's when they left Abe Martin Stadium scoreless against the Panthers.
The Lufkin, Nacogdoches rivalry reignites Friday night and although the Dragons have won two of the last three meetings, the last duel left Nacogdoches going home 38-0.
The Panthers capitalized on their silly mistakes and even Dragon quarterback Noah Hildebrand, who moved in from Louisiana last year, didn't realize just how big this rivalry was. He learned quickly though after he was thrown into the heated exchange for the first time last season.
"It's complete redemption. Last year we had so many complete, and utter idiotic mistakes that shouldn't have happened. I'm not depriving Lufkin of their win. They won the game but we got to play better," said Hildebrand. "We want to win all the game, but this one most importantly because it's such a huge rivalry and it left such a bitter taste in our mouth after last year.
"Last year we gave them 21 points right off the bat. I think they probably had about 40 yards of offense and had 21 points. That's a credit to them doing what they needed to do and it's a discredit to us not doing what we needed to do," said Nacogdoches head coach Bobby Reyes. "The game was big for the moment it seems like for our kids. It's not going to be big for the moment this year and we're going to play a lot better this year."
Lufkin leads the all-time series at 57-8-1. The East Texas tangle will be at Dragon Stadium Friday night with a 7:30 p.m. kick off time.