LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - It has been 275 days since the Lufkin Panthers walked off the field at McLane Stadium knowing they let the Area round of the playoffs slip away to Frisco Lone Star.
In those 275 days intensity has been the key for every work out and every practice.
“We are working trying to get better everyday,” senior safety Tre Odom said. “We are working to that state championship.”
First up for the Panthers is a familiar opponent, the Longview Lobos. The lobos have won three straight games over the Panthers extending their all-time lead to 41-37-4 in one of the oldest series in East Texas. Longview won their annual game last season 35-28.
“You have to gauge where you are at and you have to play the best so you can see where you are at and what you need to fix,” Lufkin Head Coach Todd Quick said. “It will be a playoff type atmosphere. It will be packed. They will be barking in the stands. it is a good way to start the season.”
The Lufkin senior have never beat the Lobos. Wide receiver Ja’Lynn Polk was in the home stands watching the 2016 team win. He wants to have his moment.
“We will be bumping heads from the beginning," Polk said. "If everyone keeps the right intensity and the drive we will be okay.”
“We just have to stay focused," Odom said. "Don’t let the crowd get to us. Just go out there and do what we were taught and we will come out with a victory.”
The 2018 season ended very differently for both teams. Lufkin got back on the buses from the Lone Star loss and started thinking about fixing their mistakes. Longview ended the year undefeated and state champions of 6A DII. Quick has been around the game long enough to know that one off season can make a big difference.
“That was last year’s team,” Quick said. "This is a new team. Just like our team is. We got to figure out who and what we are. "
One of the more intriguing side notes to the game will be the amount of talent on the field. Longview quarterback Haynes King will be heading to Texas A&M next fall. On the Lufkin side of the ball wide receiver Polk will head to Texas Tech and safety Jerrin “Bugg” Thompson will be going to Texas.
The Panthers and Lobos will meet up on John Outlaw Memorial Field inside Abe Martin Stadium Aug.31 at 7:30 PM.