It was a season ago that the College Station Cougars seemed to have Lufkin just where they wanted them. Coming off the Class 5A DII state title, College Station was undefeated with wins over high-powered Richmond Foster and Huntsville to their credit.
The Cougars also had started district with a 70-0 win over Caney Creek and a 49-7 victory over Waller.
The Panthers had just struggled to a 41-34 home win over Magnolia. In addition, Lufkin was on the road for the showdown that had been anticipated since the new district was realigned.
Apparently Lufkin wasn’t impressed.
The Panthers scored three touchdowns before the first quarter was over and led 35-0 at halftime. With six minutes left in the game, College Station settled for a 30-yard field goal just to prevent the shutout.
In that victory, Lufkin’s Ja’Lynn Polk caught a 94-yard touchdown pass and the Panthers’ defense held College Station to 197 yards.
A stunned College Station team never seemed to have a chance.
“We were ready to play, but that was last year,” Lufkin head coach Todd Quick said. “That’s just another reason we’re going to get their best shot.”
College Station still has the pedigree of a team that can compete for district and state titles. The Cougars, who were No. 4 in the state at the time of last year’s game but are unranked this year, opened the season with a surprising blowout loss to Richmond Foster but have been impressive since then.
The Cougars overwhelmed a Top 5 Huntsville team in a 29-13 win and have outscored their last three opponents by a score of 142-23.
College Station is picked second in 8-5A DII, while Lufkin is predicted to win the district.
Last year’s game was an even bigger indication that expectations mean little until the teams take the field.
“We know they’re good and they’re going to have a good game plan,” Quick said. “None of what happened in the past means anything. The team that plays better on Friday night is the team that’s going to win.”
Kickoff for Friday’s game is set for 7:30 p.m.