It’s been a month since Longview’s 40-7 season-opening loss to Denton Ryan.
The Lobos have shaken it off for an extended win streak, and are now playing their best ball of the season. That’s why they’re ready for Friday’s 7:30 p.m. district home opening battle against Wylie East at Lobo Stadium.
Longview’s season turnaround was launched by three straight wins to wrap up non-district play. Then, it added last Thursday’s 56-28 UIL 7-5A Division I district opening victory at West Mesquite.
But, there’s more to the story than just a dominant start to district competition. The Lobos had to overcame multiple injuries, as well as a back-and-forth first half that resulted in a 21-21 halftime score. They ultimately leaned on a complete team effort in recording a 35-7 second half edge.
“The one thing I’ve learned about this football team is next man up,” Longview athletic director and head football coach John King said of his team so far in 2021. “It’s been a revolving door of starters and rotational guys due to injuries. We find a way to put a band aid on it each and every week.”
“The other night, we had seven guys that traveled and didn’t play, and lost three more during the game,” he continued. “Sooner than later, that takes its toll. But, it does allow you to play other guys and get game time experience. It’ll help you down the road, but you’ve got to get back to full force.”
On the offensive side this season, Longview has recorded successful drives with both Jordan Allen and Joshua Thomas under center at quarterback. The Lobos flipped the script by using only one quarterback in last week’s win against West Mesquite. Allen took advantage of the opportunity, and finished his 10-of-13 passing performance with over 200 yards and three touchdowns. He also contributed two more scores on the ground.
“Jordan, he’s played well,” said King. “He’s had some mistakes too. We expect him to be a better player than he was last year because he’s a seasoned vet. He has made some big plays for us. He’s done a good job leading the football team and there are things that he can do that the average football fan probably doesn’t realize. What he does in the communication part, and making sure everybody is on the same page and able to execute a play.”
The Lobos have also run the ball well throughout the season, especially during their current four-game win streak. Jarrett Lewis has led the charge with three straight 100-yard rushing games. That includes his 195 yards and three scores from last Thursday.
“Jarrett has been given the opportunity and he’s made the most of it,” said King. “He’s a really good running back, and got better speed than he probably gets credit for. He’s starting to see the holes and make the cuts. He’s played well and done the things that we expected him to be able to do.”
And you can’t ignore the defensive unit that helped Longview pull out tight wins against Marshall and Bryant (Arkansas). It forced five West Mesquite turnovers last week, and only allowed seven second half Wrangler points.
“I felt like they played pretty good,” King said of his team’s defense. “West Mesquite has great skill players.”
After a run of success in recent weeks, Longview is focused on continuing the trend against Wylie East this week.
“I expect to get their best shot, like everybody else in the district,” King said of his team’s next opponent. “They got a fantastic athlete and skill player in Terrell Washington, Jr. He leads them in three categories: passing, rushing and receiving. That tells you who their guy is. He’s a threat, and he gave us trouble last year over there.”
“They’ve got a four-star in Anthony James,” he added. “He’s a junior, but he’s a 6-6, 250-pound defensive end, who’s a handful. They’re [also] big on the offensive line. They’re dangerous. We’ve got to play better up front. We’re going to be down a couple guys due to injury, so it’s going to be [a] next man up [approach].”