ET Football: Lobos prep for season opener with Lufkin
Aug. 24, 2015 at 9:51 p.m.
When Friday rolls around, two teams will get the 2015 season going with both carrying a chip on their shoulder.
Two teams with a long and storied past, one that spills over into the fresh season, will collide once again in just a matter of days.
For the 77th time, Longview and Lufkin will meet at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Lobo Stadium, marking the season opener for both teams.
"The way things ended for them last year, I know they've got a bad taste in their mouth, much like we do," Longview head coach John King said. "They made an early exit and that's not something they planned on. I know they felt like they should've had a better year, much like we feel."
This past season was wild one for the rivalry, one that will be on display as a part of the Great American Rivalry Series this coming Friday.
To open the season, the Panthers knocked off Longview, 44-14, in the season opener at Abe Martin Stadium in Lufkin. In the playoff opener, the Lobos erased a 28-0 margin to knock out the Panthers with a wild 43-42 win to knot the series back up at 36-all with four ties. The Lobos' season would come to an end the following week.
Game week began and the preseason ended for the Lobos on Friday night after a preseason scrimmage with Ennis, one that King described as 'feast or famine' alluding to flashes of good things both offensively and defensively. Overall, King, entering his 12th season at the helm of the Lobos, said the preseason was a successful one.
"The first two weeks of the fall have been an A-minus — we accomplished a lot and did some good things and some could've been better," he said. "I've been pleased with our effort and attitude over the past two weeks."
On Monday, the Lobos began to mix two areas — prepping for an actual opponent while continuing to teach, install and implement new areas on the field — as they head into Friday's opener.
"Now, you're working more against a show team," King said. "The first two weeks have been us and it's easy to get lined up when you're coaching your own stuff against your own stuff. Now it's about to getting scout team members to line up, give effort and five you a good show. Those junior varsity players have to grow up in a hurry and they're a valuable part of what we do — it's a thankless job that they do.
"We've continued to evolve as a football team and have continually added to the overall plan."
Now the plan includes a Lufkin team that returns eight starters from a year ago and one that graduated 21 lettermen.
"They're a young football team but they're very athletic and very talented," King said. "Defensively, their front seven will be a challenge, they've got a lot of kids back there and they're sound in what they do.
"Offensively, they're similar to how we are on the offensive line with some big kids. They've got a quarterback that's new to the position but was a varsity defensive back last year in Kordell Rodgers. I'm not going to call him the second coming of Reggie McNeal but he's got the same skill set. He's a talented player and has some great athletes our wide to throw it to."
It's the 77th meeting and King said he expects Friday's contest to fall right in line with the long history.
"It's got the the making of a classic Longview-Lufkin meeting to get it going."
Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: @hayden_h