Longview and Lufkin each faced tall tasks this past weekend in the third round of the playoffs with both squaring off against undefeated opponents.
Both teams made a statement.
Now, for the 24th time since 2000 and second time this season, the two rivals meet once again as two of eight teams remaining in the Class 6A, Division II playoffs.
"It's going to be a typical Longview-Lufkin matchup," Longview head coach John King said. "It's two fast, physical teams.
"They're a lot better football team than they were in Week 1 and I feel like we are too. We're quite familiar with one another. It's kind of crazy to think about how many times we've met but I think it's a testament to both programs to advance to the playoffs and have a chance to meet again."
Longview took a 35-16 win over the Panthers in the season opener in September at Lobo Stadium. Both teams finished second in their respective districts, Longview in 11-6A and Lufkin in 12-6A.
That set up the Region II gauntlet in the postseason with Longview prevailing over No. 8 Klein Collins, 30-24, this past weekend and Lufkin knocking off Spring Westfield, 14-11.
"It's been a pretty tough bracket," King said. "Region II is usually one of the tougher regions in the state and I don't think that's any different this year.
"We've both had to beat some really good teams to get here. This past weekend was huge for both teams against two Houston-area powerhouses and it was good for East Texas."
Stephen F. Austin State University's Homer Bryce Stadium will once again play host to the two rivals with kickoff set for 2 p.m. Saturday in Nacogdoches. The two, who will square off for the 10th time in the postseason overall, met in Nacogdoches in the 2004 playoffs, drawing north of 27,000 fans to shatter the previous attendance record at Homer Bryce Stadium.
Saturday marks the sixth time the two have met more than once in the same season since 2000 and the fifth time where the rematch comes in the postseason. joining 2002, 2004, 2014 and 2015 seasons. The 2002 meeting also came in the state quarterfinal round. The teams have split those meetings 2-2.
But that is history and meeting No. 81 proves to add to the storied rivalry.
"We're getting ready to play one heck of a football team and we've got to prepare each and every day," King said. "We're not playing the game tomorrow or during the week and, like I tell the team all the time, we've got to prepare each and every day and built with each day with the plan and understanding of what we want to get done between now and Saturday."
Tickets will be on sale beginning today through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Friday from 8 a.m. to noon at the Longview Athletic Office. Tickets are $4 for student and $7 for adults and will be $10 at the gate. Longview will be the visiting team. Gates at Homer Bryce Stadium at noon.
(For more on Longview-Lufkin, see the Lobo Insider blog at ETVarsity.com; Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: @hayden_h)