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Lobos ready for 'first true test'

By Hayden Henry
Aug. 22, 2013 at 11 p.m.

With the trip to Allen and an impending showdown with Coppell less than a week away, Longview enters its final preseason scrimmage today with one thing on its mind.

It's something that has been the focus since day one: The Lobos.

"That's what we've focused on since day one and that's what we're still focused on," head coach John King said. "We're focused on the Lobos and doing the things that we need to do to get better as a football team.

"That being said, anytime that Longview and John Tyler get together, it's a happening."

The two rivals will kick off at 7:30 tonight at Rose Stadium in Tyler. The first-team units will get 15 plays to start followed by 10 plays from the second-team units. The number ones will return for 10 more plays each, followed by a kicking segment and concluded with a game situation, consisting of two 15-minute halves.

King is ready to see his team match up against other players, something he says will give him a true evaluation of the Lobos as a whole.

"You have spring ball against each other then fall drills against each other and by now you're very familiar with the guy across from you," he said. "Maybe you have a guy that has been dominating practice because he's simply better than they guys that's in front of him. Well when you go out there against John Tyler, it really gives you a true evaluation of the entire unit."

King described today's scrimmage against the Lions as his team's "first true test" and hope the film will provide even more insight as the season roars near.

"I expect a great evaluation of our team in terms of conditioning, physicality, effort and execution, those are the keys," he said. "Whether you win or lose – and everyone wants to win – I mean sometimes you can learn more from a loss than a win but I'm going to evaluate what's on that film, not what's on the scoreboard."

With a formidable opponent in John Tyler, today's tune-up will give the Lobo staff a glimpse of what's to come.

"If I know we're going over there to face John Tyler and they've got a stud defensive end and my tackles and tight ends get after it and hold up against him then I know they're going to hold up the next week and the week after that, and that's the case all over the field.

"We go over there and whoop up on somebody that's not the level of player that we're going to see this year – and they're coming – you don't get anything out of that."

Another big objective for the Lobos today: stay injury free.

With the injury bug lingering large over the Lobos' fall drill, running back Deionte Wall is the latest to be sidelined with an injury. The senior told the News-Journal that he had surgery this past Tuesday after re-injuring his foot in practice last week. Wall said he is anticipating a return around the time that Longview enters the bye week on Oct. 4.

"We're going to be without Deionte for a little while but he'll be back," King said. "We were excited about having him, JaMycal Hasty and L'darrius Peterson back there … that gave us three 'home run' guys and a little rotation and depth."

King noted that the running back position is a deep one for the Lobos and that full backs Jeremy Powell, Marquies Hunter and Quatorian Hunter, along with a handful of sophomores, will fill the void left by Wall.

Vernon Hutchison continues to impress the staff on the line as well as Jordan Whitaker, who leads a group of three-to-four tight ends that have stepped up in practice.

James Fisher has moved from tight end to a backup at center and will compete with Landry Pepper for playing time, according to King.

"He's played a little bit of everything for us and we approached him about making the move and it didn't take long for him to decide," King said. "Vernon is playing as good right now as anyone I've ever coached with assignments, technique, effort … you name it, he's got it. People are not having a fun time lining up against him right now.

"There's competition for spots all over the offensive line."

Also expected to return before the Lobos enter the second week of district play is TCU commit Zaycoven Henderson, who also had surgery this past week on an injured foot.

"There's been some kids that have stepped up and some guys that have been thrown into competing for a starting spot and I've been very pleased with that," King said.

Decord Flanagan, Dillion Winn, Trey Lanier and Roderick Alexander took reps as the number-one defensive line in practice on Thursday.

"We had a good practice all around on Thursday, probably one of the better ones we've had, they were a little more focused, a little more consistent on offense," King said. "I want to see us get after it tonight. I know there's going to be mistakes but I want them to be correctable ones.

"A lot of people say you see the biggest improvement between the first and second games but we're going to consider John Tyler a game and hopefully the things that we do screw up on we can correct moving forward."

All proceeds collected at the gate will benefit the Texas High School Coaches Association's 'Our day to shine' program.

<em>(Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: <a href="" target="_blank">@hayden_h</a>)</em>

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