The 2018 season ended a lot sooner for the Lufkin Panthers than many expected.
The Pack fell in round two of the playoffs to Frisco Lone Star, after rattling off 10 wins in a row.
This year, Lufkin is primed to once again challenge for a deep december run, possibly even a trip to Jerry’s World.
The Panthers are spearheaded by a pair of future Big 12 rivals, one on each side of the ball.
Receiver and Texas Tech commit Ja’Lynn Polk…and safety and Texas pledge Jerrin Thompson have been starting for LP since their sophomore year. This off-season, there has been no question as to who the rest of the pack looked to for guidance.
“We came together real well. We stay together this time and we pushed each other. They pushed me and I pushed them,” said Polk.
“We’re a real veteran team. So like a lot of us is a lot of leaders. So I feel like our bond is real good, our chemistry is real good. And we’re just working, trying to play together,” said Thompson.
“They’ve earned that right because they’ve out-worked everybody here. And those people that try to work that don’t outwork people, that never works out for them. These two have put it in. They’ve earned the right to be the voice. And the other players respect that,” said eighth year head coach Todd Quick.
Another player that’s embracing a leadership role is junior quarterback Jordan Moore. Thrusted into action as a sophomore, Moore has proven that he can be a dynamic playmaker.
“He grind every day you know. He got that mindset that he want to be the best. So you know he want to be the best. So you know, I push him every day, you know trying to get him better,” said Polk.
Lufkin is trying to break in some new faces in the trenches, particularly along the defensive front where they graduated three guys that now play for division one colleges.
“We’re a little bit different than what we were last year. Last year we were real big. And we had over 300-pound nose that could move. This year we’re a little bit smaller, we’re a little bit quicker. So and that still causes problems with line. You just gotta keep your shoulder pads down, and maitain the line of scrimmage. We’re a little bit faster, at the defensive line than we were last year,” said Quick.
Now whether the panthers will have some extra motivation to beat the Lobos because they’re the defending state champs, there’s already incentive for LP just looking win in this old rivalry for the first time since 2016.
“We have enough respect and there’s enough rivalry between the two that if we’re not in it, and we don’t win it, we want them to win it. And it would be the same way with us. But when we lock it up, and we play each other, both sides their focus is winning the football game, and winning every game they line up in,” explained Quick.
Longview visit to Abe Martin Stadium Friday to take on The Pack is our Friday Football Fever Game of the Week.
Kickoff on John Outlaw Memorial Field is set for 7:30 p.m.
Watch the video to see our season preview on the Panthers.