LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The bye week could not have come at a better time for the Lufkin Panthers.
The team had several key injuries in the off season that hindered their depth at several positions when the season first started. Now with the bye in the rear view mirror, the Pack is getting ready for a run through their new district home. In the spring Lufkin was put in the new 8-5A DI district. They are one of eight teams fighting for four playoff spots. In their district is Willis, Caney Creek, Magnolia, Magnolia West, Tomball, Waller and the defending 5A DI state Champions - College Station.
“The bye was very important because this is the first game of district and there is a lot of injuries so it allowed for everyone to get healed up," defensive end Breylon Garcia said.
The practices since their international game with Toluca have been full with everyone participating.
“We don’t have anyone being held out,” Coach Todd Quick said. “What we have done is create some depth because we had to play some other kids. They want playing time so we are better off as a team because we have forced ourselves to get better.”
One of those competitions is at the quarterback position. The team has played Sophomore Jordan Moore all year as senior Kewone Thomas has been out with a hand injury. With Thomas back, it is anyone’s guess what Quick will do.
“It is good when you can have two competitive guys working at the position,” Quick said. “We will see what happens this week in practice with them and go from there. Both are doing good things."
The first district opponent is the Willis Wildkats. Quick says the key will be the Lufkin defense shutting down several skill positions. The team knows they have to handle their business but the excitement at practice is that they are just weeks away from the College Station Cougars.
“We know we cannot overlook Willis or Magnolia next week but I am ready to face College Station,” Garcia said. " They won state last year. People are doubting us but we still have one of the best defenses in the state."