In 2016, the Lufkin Panthers started a yearly series against Monterrey Prepa Tec, a team that routinely makes visits to Texas to play against a variety of teams.

Following two games against them, a few complications left Lufkin playing an “all-star team” from the Monterrey area last season. This year, the Panthers will close out the series when they take on Redskins del Estado de Mexico, A.C., a team from Mexico City.

The results have been somewhat predictable with Lufkin taking respectable 35-7 and 47-7 wins over Prepa Tec. Last season, things unraveled against the newly formed team in a 68-0 victory. A true test in Lufkin’s final non-district game would be somewhat of a surprise this season.

However, Lufkin has been able to gain a few advantages away from the field.

Friday night’s game will serve as #LufkinU Family Night. Elementary students and their families are being offered $2 tickets to the game due to the lack of fans making the trip from Mexico.

That type of promotion has helped fill a good portion of the Abe Martin Stadium stands over the past three seasons.

“It’s a great thing for the Lufkin school district and the school system,” Lufkin head coach Todd Quick said. “It lets us get a lot of elementary groups in here. It’s a good chance for some kids and families who can’t come to other games to have a special night for them.”

Following last season’s game, there was talk of discontinuing the game. However, with a guarantee to play a team made up of a regular roster, Lufkin elected to finish out the final year of the agreement with the Mexican federation.

This will be the final year the Panthers will take on a team from Mexico for the foreseeable future. With realignment hitting in the offseason, the Panthers will rework their schedule in a more conventional fashion.

There are likely to be a few additions to the non-district schedule in addition to the usual moves made by realignment.

“We’re going to have a few changes to our schedule next season and this will be one of them,” Quick said. “But this is still a great opportunity this year, whether it be a Pre-K student to a 12th grader to come see a game. This gives us an opportunity to show what a great place Lufkin, Texas, is.”

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

Josh Havard’s email address is