The Lufkin Panthers have made it their mission to make their home one of the toughest places to play in the state. Over the past two seasons, Lufkin’s only loss was a three-point decision to Longview, last year’s state champion and the current No. 4 team in Class 6A.
Lufkin is 3-0 at home this year with three blowouts to its credit.
However, when they take the field tonight, they know they’ll be playing a College Station team that not only wants to win. They expect it.
“Those kids aren’t coming here to play it close,” Lufkin head coach Todd Quick said. “They expect to win. You don’t win a state championship by not knowing how to win on the road.”
College Station, the 2017 Class 5A DII state champion, enters tonight’s game with a 4-1 record and a 2-0 district mark. While Magnolia West has its own high hopes, the path to the district title would seem to go through Lufkin and College Station.
Lufkin’s win over College Station eventually led to a district title.
“We need it to be like it was here in Week 1,” Quick said, referring to the opener against Longview. “We need a good atmosphere here. Hopefully we’ll have the stands full and they’ll understand how big of a game this is. It’s a huge game both in district and in relation to who we’ll be playing in the playoffs down the road.”
College Station brings one of the better offenses in the district to Lufkin. The Cougars average 405 yards and 37 points per game, both marks that are second best in the district.
The Cougars will feature a pair of quarterbacks. Sophomore Jett Huff has thrown for 579 yards and six touchdowns with only one interception on 34-of-53 passing. Senior Austin Sosa has thrown for 280 yards and four touchdowns with one interception on 22-of-41 passing.
“You’re going to see pretty much the same thing from both quarterbacks,” Quick said. “They want to get the ball out quick and let their guys go. They do a lot of run/pass option.”
They also feature a pair of dangerous players in the backfield. Roderick Brown has rushed for 452 yards and four touchdowns and Kolbe Cashion has run for 349 yards and four touchdowns.
“They’ll play separately or they’ll be out there together,” Quick said. “They’re both going to run hard.”
College Station’s top receiver is Trey Winn, who has 17 receptions for 282 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
As good as College Station’s offense is, the defense has been equally impressive. College Station allows an average of 18 points and 285 yards per game.
Aaron Nutall leads the district with four interceptions.
“They look a lot like us because they’re going to run a 3-4,” Quick said. “Their front line is big and strong and they’re athletic at the safety spot. We need to be able to control them on the line.”
Kickoff for tonight’s game is set for 7:30.