In just over a week, the Lufkin Panthers will be back under the Friday Night Lights when they renew their long-time rivalry against the Longview Lobos. On Friday night, the Panthers will get somewhat of a dress rehearsal when they host the Huntsville Hornets in a scrimmage at John Outlaw Memorial Field at Abe Martin Stadium.
With several key players returning on both sides of the ball, the Panthers have plenty of reason to be optimistic for the 2016 season. Fans can get their first look at the Panthers at Friday’s scrimmage.
“We had four weeks of workouts in the spring and we’ll be finishing up two weeks of practice here,” Lufkin head coach Todd Quick said. “So they’ve had six weeks of going up against each other and that can get old. They’re ready to go up against somebody else.”
The freshmen and JV teams will scrimmage at 5 p.m. on Friday. The varsity will start their scrimmage at 6:30 p.m.
They will start with one-on-one drills with linemen as well as 7-on-7 drills for approximately 20 minutes.
That will be followed with 10-snap segments rotating between first and second-teamers. There will be three of those rotations.
That will be followed by two quarters of live action.
“We want to gauge what type of shape we’re in because the action will be faster than what you see in practice,” Quick said. “Of course the biggest key for the scrimmage is getting everybody out of there healthy.”
Today’s opponent, Huntsville, should give Lufkin a glimpse at an athletic squad that features 22 returning players, including nine starters. Last season, Huntsville finished 5-5, which included a 3-4 district mark.
This season, the Hornets are predicted to finish in fifth place in District 20-5A.
“They’re going to be athletic and they’ve got some good kids at the skill positions,” Quick said. “They’re going to play hard.”
Lufkin returns the majority of their skill players on offense as well as most of their linebacking corps and secondary.
With those players returning, the emphasis for the team will be on the offensive and defensive line.
The Panthers have three players that saw action on the offensive line last season, although some will be in new positions. Lufkin is also short on experience on the defensive line.
“The emphasis is going to be on both of the lines,” Quick said. “We’ve got guys back at the other positions. We still need to get some more depth there so it will be good to get some reps for our backups.”
Following today, the team will have another week of practice before opening the season on Aug. 26 at home against Longview in a game set for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.