Henry: Longview, Marshall meeting for 106th time
Sept. 1, 2016 at 10:24 p.m.
Moments before the scoreboard hit zero, 14 years had become a distant memory.
Long after the crowd, which rushed the field like they were celebrating a new millennium, had dispersed and the stadium lights faded to black, the scoreboard shown through the October night for all to see.
The Marshall Mavericks, for the first time since 2000, were the victors.
They say the scoreboard was left on a week – an exaggeration, no doubt, but one that simply adds to the lore that is Longview vs. Marshall.
With a rivalry that dates back to when Theodore Roosevelt was president and accompanies both legend and a rich history, tonight – on the same field as a year ago (and under a new scoreboard at Maverick Stadium), they meet for the 106th time.
Everyone knows the histories, the series leads, the streaks and instant classics that makes one of Texas high school football's oldest and perhaps most bitter rivalry what it is today.
Anything can happen because in this matchup, it probably already has happened — a tie like in 1909, shutouts and big numbers both ways — a 56-13 Lobo win in 2014 and a 35-2 Maverick win in 1989 — overtime games, like the two-OT game in 1998 that featured Fred Talley for the Lobos and Kendrick Starling for the Mavericks.
As usual, you can take all of that and throw it out the window tonight.
Tonight (or next week) when the scoreboard is turned off, one team will move forward with a .500 record and the other will head into Week 3 at 0-2.
It's often said that in high school football, the biggest progression of a team happens between Week 1 and Week 2. Of course, that varies from team to team.
So tonight, after both teams suffered season-opening losses a week ago — the Lobos, a 35-24 loss to another bitter rival Lufkin and Marshal, a 34-7 thumping at the hands of Tyler Lee.
"Their team is kind of like us right now, wounded a little bit after not playing well the first game of the year and a better team than what they played," Longview head coach John King said. "It's a matter of which team improves the most between Week 1 and Week 2 and who goes out there and executes.
"We say it every year, that the past is the past and that includes last week."
Tonight, you'll see a number of players both ways who will get their first taste on the field of what Longview and Marshall is all about. But every player who will step on the field tonight knows the histories and are certainly aware of what tonight is about. For the Mavericks, the freshest memory is one of victory. For the Lobos, a sour taste.
Tonight, it's about continuing a tradition. At the same time, it's about improvement both ways as both teams continue a grueling non-district slate. Marshall moves on to face a former foe in Ouachita Parish (La.) and the Lobos return home for the first time against Dallas South Oak Cliff.
In a few short weeks, with tonight's meeting just a footnote in the history, the two teams will go their separate ways once district action begins — Marshall hosting Texas High in a crucial District 16-5A opening contest and for the Lobos a reintroduction to the state's largest classification with a home date against Mesquite Horn.
"Hopefully, by the time we get to district play we're a heck of a lot better football team than we were this past Friday and a better team than we are today," King said. "That's the plan and that's why we play these games that we play. That's the goal."
For a complete preview of tonight's game, see the weekly edition of the Zone in today's newspaper, but tonight is about two young teams working out the kinks and improving.
Last season is last season, last week is last week and Saturday, the season moves forward. Tonight will be another chapter, another addition to the epic that is Longview vs. Marshall, no matter what the scoreboard reads.
Just don't forget to flip the switch.
(Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: @hayden_h)