Longview head coach John King closed out a chilly practice on Monday with a history lesson that also served as a warning as the Lobos head into the regular season finale on Friday.
In 2007, the Lobos, at 6-1, traveled to take on Tyler High, who came into the game at 1-6. It took a special teams blunder from the Lions late in the fourth quarter for Longview to squeak out a 10-6 win and lock in a playoff spot for, at the time, the seventh-consecutive season.
King lamented on the trip 13 years later with Longview, who locked up its 20th consecutive postseason trip this past Friday, heading to Tyler High (2-7, 2-4 in District 7-5A, DI) with a chance to sure up a home playoff game in the first round.
“We always talk about records not mattering, especially in a rivalry game and that game in 2007 proves it,” King said. “We went over there that night going through the motions and that is something that doesn’t need to happen on Friday night. We harped on that all day today.
“We need to go play well and in playoff mode. It’s Longview and Tyler and regardless of records, it doesn’t take much for these players to get up for that game. The kids are always going to get after one another and I expect nothing different on Friday night. Stranger things have happened so we’ve got to go take care of business.”
Tyler dropped the first four games of the season before grabbing district wins over West Mesquite (10-3) and Wylie East (27-20). The Lions fell to Highland Park, 49-10, and Sherman, 30-9, this past Friday.
“They’re playing a ton of young kids so the inexperience got them early and they’ve been in some games that they just couldn’t close out,” King said of the Lions. “They’ve got three defensive linemen that I think are pretty good, big boys that are very active and mobile. They’ve got athleticism at the skill positions.
“They’re a dangerous team in regards with nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
A win from the Lobos would put them as the second seed out of 7-5A, DI and lock up one more game at Lobo Stadium this season. The first-round opponent is a little unclear in a log-jammed race in 8-5A, DI.
Magnolia leads the district at 7-0, followed by College Station at 6-1. Magnolia West, Lufkin and New Caney all check in at 4-3. Magnolia takes on New Caney, Magnolia West visits College Station and Lufkin hosts Waller on Friday night meaning that there is a strong change that the Panthers will visit Lobo Stadium in the postseason opener.
But first, a trip to Rose Stadium on Friday for the 97th meeting between the Lobos and Lions.
“Take care of business,” King said. “That’s what we’ve got to do.”