Many East Texans were surprised by the success of the Longview Lobos football team this year.
“It was supposed to be a rebuilding year,” we kept hearing as fans marveled at the Lobos’ crusade. “Where did this team come from?”
Their success did not surprise us.
Yes, it is a young team that, as coach John King himself said, is not as big or as physical as some Lobos squads have been. But this is a talented bunch led by a talented and dedicated coaching staff. And we never doubted these Lobos would be successful.
In fact, they were this newspaper’s preseason pick to win the District 11-5A title. They more than lived up to our hopes.
Right out of the gate, it was clear this was a scrappy team, a contender. The Lobos won two tough games to open the season against arch-rival Marshall and a John Tyler team that is still alive in the Class 4A playoffs.
In fact, before the game last week that removed them from contention for a shot at the state title, the Lobos’ only loss was to nationally ranked Allen. But they followed that with six straight victories to set up their battle with unbeaten DeSoto in a televised game. And as we predicted, the Lobos won, 23-21, to clinch their eighth straight district title.
They achieved all this despite replacing their starting quarterback, entire offensive line and several key defensive players.
But as we said, we were never in doubt of the Lobos’ abilities. Much of our confidence is because of King. Longview is 91-19 since he took over in 2004, including a 43-1 record in district play. We know his record extends beyond such stats, however, to successful mentoring of young men to be the best they can be, despite the challenges they may face.
And that is the main reason we are so proud of King and his Lobos. Season after season, they remind us of the success possible when we focus on our strengths and work as a team.
The dedication, discipline and hard work it took to fight so far against long odds cannot be underestimated. As such, the Lobos, their coaches and school family stand as an example to all of us about the positive things participation in high school sports can exemplify.
So, congratulations to this group of young athletes for achieving so much. We are proud of you, and we know your classmates, parents, coaches and many others are as well.
Thanks for the great season, Lobos. We can’t wait for next fall.