NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks will be revisiting a rivalry this weekend that started back in 1923. It's the 91st Battle of the Piney Woods for SFA and Sam Houston State.
Before the heated exchanges begin, the Lumberjacks are experiencing changes in their quarterback position. Whitehouse native Hunter Taylor is getting the well-deserved start.
He's a fifth year senior that has patiently waited for his time to shine and he's doing just that.
Against McNeese in SFA's first conference game, Taylor had the come-from-behind victory against the No.17 ranked Cowboys. With that performance, the American Sports Network named Taylor the Game Changer of the Week.
Then last weekend against ACU, Taylor helped lead SFA to their first win against the Wildcats since they joined the Southland Conference. He threw a career-high 376 yards, four touchdowns and was tabbed the SLC Offensive Player of the Week.
"It's been a long time coming. This is my fifth year and I always felt like I was there, I just had a guy that is really good along with me," said Taylor. "To have it pan out the way it's panned out, all the hard work has really paid off."
Just because Taylor is starting doesn't mean two- year starter Zach Conque is out of the mix. The two will be sharing reps.
Taylor may be smaller, but he's got an arm with quick release, is accurate and has the traits of a traditional quarterback.
Zach has size. He's fast and isn't afraid to get out of the pocket and run for it.
If there's anyone who knows Zach most, it's of course his head coach and father Clint Conque.
The decision to have Zach share time is what Clint felt was best for the team, as he felt his son has been playing more rattled as of late.
"This will take a little pressure off of Zach. This gives Hunter an opportunity. Obviously he's earned the right to start and we got two really good players there. Both will play. For this game, at this time, this is the right decision to make," said Clint. "As a dad you always want your son to do well, but as the head football coach you have a bigger responsibility. That's the way we'll go this week."
"It's been fun. Coming in as a relief is kind of an adrenaline rush and you play off of that. It's a lot of fun to go out there and see the team's energy pick up when a change is made. When that energy rises it makes it a little easier and more fun as well," said Taylor.
The Battle of the Piney Woods will once again be at NRG Stadium in Houston. Game starts Saturday at 3 p.m.