Panthers kick off season with big-time showdown

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It’s been nine months since the Lufkin Panthers last stepped onto the football field for a meaningful game on a night they would rather forget.

It was a game in which Lufkin stood toe to toe with the Longview Lobos for the opening half before the Lobos eventually imposed their will, sending the Panthers home bruised and battered with a 31-10 loss.

It was also the second straight season in which their season came to an end at the hands of rival Longview.

The Panthers will get their shot at a bit of redemption as those same Lobos head to John Outlaw Memorial Field at Abe Martin Stadium for opening night.

While an opening night win wouldn’t erase the pain of those losses, it would certainly be a good starting point for a Panthers’ team looking to make waves in the 2016 season.

“Longview is always going to be a big game for Lufkin,” Panthers’ head coach Todd Quick said. “There aren’t any secrets between those teams.”

The Lobos are once again expected to be one of the beasts of East Texas football despite returning only three players on each side of the ball.

Longview will once again rely on its powerful ground game to try to control the pace of the game.

A pair of running backs with varsity experience will carry the load. D’Crayvan Polk and Kendrevian White are two of the backs that will be called on for the Lobos.

Polk ran for 772 yards and seven touchdowns last season, while White ran for 270 yards and three scores.

Gaylon Wiley, in his first full season as the Lobos’ starting quarterback, will look to make some plays behind a big offensive line.

“We’ve seen enough of them to know what they want to do,” Quick said. “They want to run the football right at you and see if you can stop them.”

The Lobos’ defense is short on experience, although their athleticism should make up for it.

One of the players with experience is Webster, who made 88 tackles and an interception in the secondary.

Ja’Quavian Faggans and Kobe Davis are two of the Lobo playmakers at linebacker.

“It will be a good test for us early on,” Quick said. “They’re Longview. They won’t lack for athletes.”

Kickoff for Friday’s game at John Outaw Memorial Field at Abe Martin Stadium is set for 7:30.

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