Longview and Beaumont West Brook have traded knockout blows over the past two seasons.
The biggest one yet comes in the rubber match for the Class 6A, Division II title on Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
For the third-straight season, the Lobos and Bruins will collide in the postseason. The 2018 meeting packs the biggest punch.
West Brook handed Longview its earliest postseason exit in over a decade in a 34-33 win in 2016 in Beaumont in the first meeting between the two program. The Lobos returned the favor a year later, taking a 42-21 win over the Bruins at Lobo Stadium in the opening round.
Now, the two collide once again.
This time, the winner doesn’t advance, it hoists the championship hardware.
West Brook is in the state championship for the first time since 1982, its inaugural season after Herbert and Forest Park high schools merged in conjunction with the county’s desegregation reforms, according to the Beaumont Enterprise. Beaumont’s last state title came in 1984 in a tie between Beaumont French and Odessa Permian, the last time co-champions were named, according to the newspaper.
In more recent history, the Bruins return a few familiar faces, namely quarterback L’Ravien Elia, a three-year starter that has guided high-flying and big-play West Brook to Game 16 of the season.
West Brook enters the state championship with a 13-2 record against opponents with a combined 106-69 record. One loss is to Galena Park North Shore, who will take on Duncanville in a battle of unbeaten teams in the Class 6A, Division I bout.
The second loss came to Strake Jesuit, 55-40, in Week 2 of the season. The Bruins avenged that loss in the area around with a 54-43 win.
Big plays are the name of the game for the Bruins and Elia is at the helm. West Brook enters averaging 44.7 points and 459.2 yards per game — 206.2 passing and 253.0 rushing.
Elia has had a hand in a lot of those yards. The senior quarterback has passed for 2,108 yards with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions in 222 attempts. Elia is second for the Bruins in rushing with 738 yards. Senior running back Robert McGrue Jr. lead the Bruins with 1,929 yards and 33 touchdowns with an eye-popping 9.4 yards per carry clip.
The latest victim for West Brook is Austin Westlake, who the Bruins took down, 35-30, in the state semifinals. The Chaparrals entered the penultimate game of the season with six shutouts on the season, including back-to-back shutouts in the postseason. Teams averaged just over seven points against Westlake through 13 games.
Defensively, the Bruins allow an average of 24.9 points per game and have 31 takeaways — 10 interceptions and 21 fumble recoveries — on the season.
Longview (15-0) enters off back-to-back tests in the postseason. First, a 14-0 grind-it-out 14-0 win over Spring Westfield followed by a hold-on 45-42 win over Amarillo Tascosa in the semifinal round.
On the season, the Lobos average 50.7 points per game and have allowed an average of 24.9.
The Lobos turned in 14 tackles for loss, including five players with at least two, this past week against Tascosa.
Now begins preparation for West Brook in the fifth state title appearance in program history for the Lobos, who are looking to end an eight-decade-long championship drought.
“We’ve got to bring it this week in a whole different way and we’ve got to attack practice better than we ever have,” senior defensive lineman Jaylon Allen said. “These games have brought us to where we are now and we’ve learned step by step, game by game and everything has helped us reach this point.
“It’s going to take hard work and grinding this week so we can finish this off.”
■ KING LANDS 16TH OFFER: Kansas, under new head coach Les Miles, became the latest offer for junior quarterback Haynes King on Monday.
It’s the third Big 12 offer and second since Friday for King, who was offered by Baylor this past Friday.
King has a 68 percent completion mark this season for 3,252 yards and 39 touchdowns with four interceptions in 246 pass attempts. King has 503 yards on 59 carries with seven more scores for the 15-0 Longview Lobos.
King eclipsed the 6,000-yard mark for his career (26 games) this past Saturday in Longview’s state semifinal win.
The Jayhawks join Baylor, TCU, Missouri, Auburn, Arkansas, Memphis, Minnesota, SFA, Texas State, Southern Miss, ULM, Houston, Louisiana Tech, Tulsa and North Texas on King’s offer list.