LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - As a first year starter, Kewon Thomas might have come in with little experience, but with three games left in his junior season the quarterback is leading the Lufkin Panthers to what the team hopes is a deep playoff run.
Thomas took over the starting role at quarterback after Kordell Rogers graduated last year. Thomas moved to Lufkin in the third grade and since his first city league game, he knew what he wanted to do.
"I wanted to be the guy," Thomas said. "You always dream of that. I knew what this program meant to the town."
Thomas would sit at Abe Martin Stadium and watch stars like Dez Bryant, Jorvorskie Lane, Rafael Thomas and Ju Parks tear up the turf and put teams on notice. He would watch and dream of him wearing the purple.
"I would watch them play all throughout the game," Thomas said. "I just wanted to be that person."
Once Thomas knew coach Todd Quick would rely on him to lead the offense, the nerves set in.
"It was just really nerve wracking to know you were starting quarterback," Thomas said. "I did not want to let the town down."
When he started the season, the atmosphere of Friday Night Football overwhelmed him. The loud crowds and fast speed were new to Thomas who struggled at first.
"With Kordell it kind of came natural," Thomas' friend Savon Fields said. "He wanted that position and Kewon is young and he really wasn't prepared but he has come along way."
Coach Quick new he would need to progress slowly with his new starter.
"We didn't want to overload him the first part of the season but we got our offense in and now we fine tune what we asked him to do," Quick said.
"I looked at a lot of things and a lot of mistakes that I made," Thomas said. "I worked hard to get them fixed."
But as the season went along, Thomas blocked out the noise and everything clicked.
"I got comfortable," Thomas said. "Everything just settled down for me and it slowed down for me."
Now the pack is starting to fire on all cylandars and at 5-2 and 2-1 in district, the team controls their own destiny of hosting a first round playoff game in the bi-district round. The offense never looked stronger than it did last week as Thomas and his wide receivers and running backs dominated a talented West Brook team on their home field in Beaumont.
"They are very important," Thomas said. "They bring a lot to the team and help our offensive side."
Thomas doesn't plan on stopping this momentum anytime soon. Thomas leads the Panthers against Oak Ridge at Abe Martin Stadium Friday night. Kickoff is 7:30 pm.