On May 19 the announcement came through that, after nearly 10 weeks away, the grind was back on.
It hasn’t stopped since then and, now, it gets real.
Longview will kick off the 2020 season and a new era for Lobo football tonight under the biggest and brightest lights at AT&T Stadium in Arlington live on Fox Sports Southwest as a part of the 100-year celebration of UIL football.
Just like everything has been in 2020, this season will look different for the Lobos, who head into the season with questions to be answered and spots to be filled.
”There are a lot of question still left heading into the season and that’s why you play a tough non-district schedule like we have set, to find out what your team is made of,” Longview head coach John King said. “We’re breaking in a new team and have a lot of inexperience out there. Well, against Temple, on TV and at AT&T Stadium, they’ll get a dose of experience really quickly.
”This is a new team. It’s been up and down at times, and you just really don’t know but we’re going to find out soon. These guys have been together a long time, just coming through the program and especially since May when we came back and then dealing with the delay. My biggest thing is seeing them play together as a team — to make up for a bad play with a great play and move on.”
What you’ll see tonight, whether it’s live at a socially-distanced AT&T Stadium or from your couch live on Fox Sports Southwest at 8 p.m., is two familiar teams with the Lobos and Wildcats squaring off, both of whom are breaking in a number of new players at a lot of the same spots.
You’ll see four quarterbacks in action with Longview rolling out two sophomores as the post-Haynes King era officially begins. Temple, according to reports, will do the same with two players in the mix .
Both teams return a single starter on the offensive line and Longview, whose goal was to find depth in that spot from the start, will have that tested with a few injuries already. Tight ends Austin Pencheon and Justin Beltran will assist in that area.
But for the Lobos, Kaden Meredith is back for his third varsity season and is in prime shape for another stellar season. He’ll be joined by Markevion Haynes, whose junior season, which got off to a strong start, was cut short due to an injury. That’s the past and Haynes is set for a breakout year.
King has long lauded the 2020 receiving corps as well and the talent is there.
Defensively is where the bulk of the experience is back for both teams and look for both teams to rely on that unit as the offense finds its footing.
Kybrien Jackson-Jamerson, Joe Jones, Tyree Hale, Laqualon Hale and Shannon Jackson are back to lead that charge for the Lobos and bring an edge and speed to the mix.
Another player making up for lost time and has done so through the preseason is cornerback Dylan Davis, who also lost his junior season to an injury.
A big challenge awaits, and that’s saying something considered what these high school players have faced so far in 2020. Nothing has been normal for anyone but particularly teenagers in this trying time.
Things have been rocky this preseason, which finally arrived after nearly three months of grinding against one another in their own ‘bubble’ at Lobo Stadium. Things like frustration and burnout have happened at times and who is to blame them after the long period of banging against one another, all while facing the pressure and expectations of playing in the Lobo program.
Those things have been magnified by the bright lights of AT&T Stadium in a season opener that will begin to answer questions. There will be good and there will be bad.
As a certain coach has said many times, it’s never as good as it seems and it’s never as bad as it seems.
What’s needed is a spark and if playing in a premier venue as part of a big celebration of the game — one that is needed more than ever in 2020 and an honor to be a part of — doesn’t get you going, check your pulse.
It’s been a ride so far in 2020 and it’s really just getting started.
The grind, however, never stops.