Longview

Days are rapidly turning into hours on the countdown clock as the Longview Lobos prepare to square off with the Lufkin Panthers on Friday night in Lufkin to open the 2019 season.

Following a less-than-stellar start to game week, Longview head coach John King hopes those fading hours equate to a sense of urgency about what awaits in the season opener.

“We’ve got to get prepared each day and it’s one of those things where one day won’t make us or break us,” King said. “We had a rough one today but hopefully we’ll be better (Tuesday) and progress as the week goes on.

“I know that the Lufkin Panthers are going to be excited about playing the Lobos and I hope we’re as equally excited and prepared.”

Getting his first glimpse of the 2019 edition of the Panthers, King described Lufkin, who scrimmaged Huntsville this past week, as "the Lufkin of old."

“They’re a mirror image of what they have been in years past,” King said. “They’re very athletic, physical and well-coached. They’re hungry.”

Lufkin returns 11 starters from a 10-2, Class 5A, Division I second-round team in 2018. The Panthers have six returning on offensive, including Texas Tech wide receiver commit Ja’Lynn Polk and junior quarterback Jordan Moore, who got the start in Longview’s 35-28 win to open the 2018 season.

On defense, Texas safety commit Jerrin Thompson leads the way of five returning starters.

“You can tell they have experience back,” King said. “The two safeties (Thompson and Tre Odom) are as good of a pair of safeties that you’ll see in high school football. They fly around to the football and know what they’re doing — very seasoned veterans back there.

“Offensively, (Moore) played against us last year and had good success throwing the ball to Polk, who looked like mid-season form in their scrimmage.”

Longview’s defense turned in a solid day on Monday following a shut-down scrimmage effort against Texas High this past Friday. Offensively saw the same miscues as the Lobos look to break in a new offensive line.

On top of what has been a season-opening test against a rival — 2019 marks the sixth-straight year that Longview and Lufkin have opened the season against each other — is the location: Abe Martin Stadium. Longview is 2-10 over the last 12 trips to Lufkin, dating back to 1997. Longview is 13-15 overall against the Panthers since 1997 and has won eight of the last 10 meetings.

“I think both teams will know where they’re at after Friday night, as is the case every year,” King said. “The good thing, this time, is that it’s not a do-or-die situation and you’ve got nine more guaranteed.

“We’ve got to get back to work to be prepared so see where we’re at against a strong opponent and take the good to build off and take the bad and fix it or get rid of it. It will be a good test for our team and even more so with travelling to Abe Martin Stadium.”

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in Lufkin.

FAN BUS

A fan bus will be available for Friday’s game in Lufkin. Cost is $20 (does not include game ticket).

For information: (903) 241-2305.

Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: @hayden_h; For more on Longview vs. Lufkin, see the ‘Lobo Insider’ blog at ETVarsity.com and check out the Game of the Week preview in ‘The Zone’ inside Friday’s News-Journal.