Longview vs. Mesquite Horn

Longview vs. Mesquite Horn Friday, October 11, 2019, in Mesquite. (Les Hassell/News-Journal Photo)

Longview’s typical game day is usually a strict regimen with nearly every minute of the day scheduled and followed.

Lobo head coach John King arrives at 7 a.m. — a late arrival, in his own words, as athletic trainer Deirdre Scotter is usually the first in the fieldhouse.

“Friday mornings, I sleep in,” he laughed and exaggerated.

King then heads to the cafeteria at 7:30 a.m. to get breakfast for the varsity players and heads back to the Lobo Den for a 7:45-8:10 a.m. report time for the team. The energy level is a little low at this point.

“It’s a little lethargic. ... typical high school kids at that point,” King said. “Some are here bright and early and some breeze in about 8:08 a.m.”

After breakfast, players go to class and King then heads to do his weekly radio show before finalizing the call sheet for the game, some 11 hours away.

The team reconvenes at 11:15 a.m. for walk through, some video and any notes during the athletic period. The energy picks up. FCA Character Coach Sean Goram-Welch delivers his message from 11:35-11:45 a.m.

Then it’s lunch and back to the schoolhouse.

At 3:20 p.m., it’s pep rally time and breaking the norm, today’s senior pep rally brings a little unknown into the mix but not schedule-wise.

This one is different as the 2020 class, including quarterback Haynes King, will be honored.

“It’s something that I’ve thought about since we started this season,” King, after a pause to gather his thoughts, said. “I knew it would get here too fast. It gets emotional, the week of senior night, with the pep rally with the moms and their families.”

From the pep rally, the team heads to the cafeteria for a pregame meal and heads down to the Lobo Den together.

Coach Oscar Wilson delivers a devotional at 4:30 p.m. and then, in two minutes, it’s lights out for quiet time.

“There isn’t a word,” King said of the next hour or so. “If you’re running around playing the game all day then you’re worn out and not focused when it gets it here. It’s a long week of preparation and this is a time to get off their feet, sleep, listen to music or watch a movie.

“The doors are propped open with towels so they don’t slam. Coaches are scattered throughout the field house. You could break into Fort Knox before you could get in here.”

The lights come on at 5:40 p.m. and it’s time to dress. The first wave of warm ups roll out at 6 p.m.

Here’s the second break in the norm of this particular Friday.

One-by-one, the seniors, along with their families, John and Jodie King included this time, are honored at midfield.

It’s on script, it’s prompt and it’s emotional. For once on a day where King knows every minute, he doesn’t know what this time will be like.

“I really don’t know how it’s going to be,” he said. “It’s something we’ve talked about all week long.

“It’s a special group of kids that I’ve known for a long, long time. I had the chance to watch them grow up to be fine young men, teammates and friends. You get to recognize them and their families with a chance to hug their neck and thank them.”

Back up the tunnel and into the locker room, there aren’t any pregame hype speeches. That’s already happened throughout the week in practice, King said.

“I’m not a rah-rah guy, I do my speaking during the week at practice,” King said. “If you can’t get motivated playing the people you’re playing, playing for your school and with your teammates then anything I say isn’t going to get you motivated. I hit the whistle and say ‘let’s go.’”

At 7:15 p.m., the walk down the tunnel, which the Lobos have one more trip guaranteed this season, and onto the field.

“At 7:18-7:20 p.m., we’re coming out of the field,” King says. “No matter what, we’re hitting that field. They get out here, run around, bark, pray, chant, whatever and then it’s time.”

Then they wait, shoulder-to-shoulder, arm-in-arm and watch as the minutes and seconds melt away to zero. The energy is peaking.

For one more time — guaranteed — kickoff arrives for 41 seniors at 7:30 p.m. at Lobo Stadium.

For the most part, this Friday is the same as any other game day but in so many ways, this one is different.

“I’ve told so many teams that they’ll remember this game on senior night,” King said. “I’ll certainly remember it too.”

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For complete coverage of Longview vs. Tyler Lee, see The Zone in today’s News-Journal and check ETVarsity.com; Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: @hayden_h

Hayden Henry is the beat writer for the Longview Lobos and covers sports throughout East Texas.