Lobos reflect, look to 2014
Dec. 4, 2013 at 2:27 p.m.
Lobo head coach John King saw his share of players step up in the 2013 season -- players that had seen varsity action before and players experiencing it for the first time.
The Lobos season ended abruptly this past Saturday in the regional semifinal round – the third-straight season for a third-round exit for Longview.
But they accomplished a lot along the way.
After a season-opening loss to Coppell, Longview rattled off 11-straight wins, including battling past Mississippi-power Olive Branch and running the table in District 12-5A – bringing a district title back to Longview after a year without the gold ball coming to the Lobo Den.
"There were some guys that had fine senior seasons and there were some guys that got their first varsity experience and really stepped up and played well for us the entire season," King said. "You just sit back and reflect on all the kids that stepped up and had the chance to be the guy on Friday nights and how well they all contributed.
"It was nice to get the title back this year. That's something we want to keep in Longview and that's a goal of ours every year so being able to do that and get it back was nice. Of course, getting back to the playoffs and being able to play through Thanksgiving break again was nice as well. It was a good season overall – it wasn't as great as we hoped for, obviously."
Junior quarterback Dezmond Chumley assumed the starting role after taking over the helm as a sophomore and the year of experience showed for Longview. Chumley finished with 2241 yards, completing 57 percent of his passes with 33 touchdowns and five interceptions. In his sophomore and junior campaigns, Chumley has thrown 47 touchdowns with nine interceptions in 361 passing attempts.
"Dezmond played well for us all season," King said. "He really matured and played a lot better than we had even hoped he would and a lot better than the year before. He had a strong year of maturity and growth."
Texas-bound wide receiver Dorian Leonard led the Lobos with 723 yards in his senior season, averaging 18 yards per catch and 11 touchdowns – bringing his two-year total to 1167 yards and 15 touchdowns. The tandem senior duo of Stephon Anthony and Chris Pellum combined for 831 yards and 10 touchdowns this season and tight end Jordan Whitaker was a reliable target for Chumley, hauling in a touchdown pass once every three targets (24 catches, 356 yards, 8 TDs).
Up front, Vernon Hutchinson graded out at 92 percent for Longview on the offensive line.
"Vernon was a three-year starter and a leader on the o-line," King said. "Landry Pepper was a first-year starter at a tough position and played well throughout. Broderick Washington, Kenny Andrews – all those guys communicated and played well all season and they played as a unit."
Travin Howard wrapped up a break-out season and was a constant threat in the secondary and on the other end of opposing team's punters. Howard – who holds an offer from UT-San Antonio – finished with 89 tackles, 10 TFL, 8 interceptions, 3 FF, FR, 8 PBUs, four defensive scores and had 16 punt returns for 250 yards, including taking two all the way.
Laurent Johnson followed suit, finishing with a team-high 127 tackles, 6 interceptions (2 in Longview's season-ending loss to A&M Consolidated) 5 FR, 2 FF and a defensive touchdown.
"Some of the defensive standouts were guys getting first-time experience on varsity or guys that became full-time starters," King said. "Howard and Johnson had outstanding years. On the line, Omar French, Deroderick Alexander, Trey Lanier, Dillion Winn, Decord Flanagan all played well and stepped into their roles. KD Dixon was a first-time varsity player and started his senior season and played well for us. Chris Coby (35 punts, 1410 yards, 40.3 average, 57 long) was impressive throughout punting for us – he kicked well and flipped the field for us all year long."
Defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson missed the first five games of his senior season with a foot injury but made the most of his time on the field, racking up 13 TFLs, 2 sacks, FF, FR, TD and 36 tackles. Henderson has taken to Twitter, announcing that his top three schools are Texas, Baylor and Texas Tech and that he will make his decision on where he will continue his football career on December 9.
"Zaycoven was a marked man when he was out there," King said. "He missed the start of the season and was limited when he came back and he played through some pain. But when he was ready to go, he was full-speed and dominant. I just appreciate the effort and attitude that he had about everything. A guy like that heading into his senior season already with scholarship offers could have held out and babied that thing but he's just a football player – he's a throwback kind of guy."
Such was the case with junior running back JaMycal Hasty – who racked up 862 yards before an injury sidelined the rising star for close to three games. He returned in Longview's regular-season finale against Rockwall and finished with 1413 yards and 13 touchdowns –averaging 7.5 yards per touch – on the ground. He also hauled in 12 catches for 255 yards and three touchdowns.
"We saw Hasty do some things that we expected and things that we knew he was able to do and he did it against some tough teams," King said. "He ended up with over 1400 yards after missing a few games and sitting out in the second half of others. He was explosive and ran with speed and power. I think his coming out party was against Olive Branch with what he was able to do there and we saw it over the last few weeks – just sticking his nose in there and running with power. JaMycal has a lot more football in front of him and good thing is that we get him for one more year."
L'darrius Peterson stepped up in a big way in Hasty's absence, finishing with 561 yards and five touchdowns.
"Petey had a few weeks there where he was the guy and he made the most of it and had a big part in helping us get that title back to Longview," King said.
With 38 seniors on the roster, Longview will look to reload in 2014 around Chumley and Hasty.
"I think we've got four full-time starters on defense and three defensively coming back," King said. "In 2013, there's going to be some opportunities for kids to step up and become household names. The chance is there for them to make plays for us and improve their stock with colleges and all those things that go along with it. It's going to be interesting to see."
Although the season ended sooner than the Lobos hoped, the road to the 2014 season has already begun.
"We give them one day off around here and that was yesterday (Monday)," King said. "We went back to work today. We'll be in offseason mode until the end of the semester and come back after the Christmas holidays and for the first three months the emphasis will be on strength and conditioning. Sometime around spring break, we'll head outside a little more and start throwing the football around and looking at schemes. Then comes May and that's spring football which is very important for this football team. We'll go through that, evaluate where we are and head into summer and we'll be ready to roll into August. The big thing now is that we've got to take care of business starting today until August 29 in order to develop next year's team. It'll be here before you know it."
When August does roll around, the Lobos will be facing a new district in a new classification due to the biennial UIL realignment. The Lobos will compete in 5A, which is essentially the current 4A class, leaving the Lobos to fill out a non-district schedule – which presents problems because Longview will not know how the 13 teams in the new 5A in East Texas will be divided. According to King, the Lobos were already looking at non-district contests with Lufkin, John Tyler and Marshall but come February 3, those teams could be conference foes.
Released on Tuesday, the Padilla Poll projects that Longview will compete in District 16-5A along with Jacksonville, Pine Tree, Lufkin, Nacogdoches, John Tyler and Whitehouse.
The Lobos will also return to the Battle on the Border series held at Independence Stadium in Shreveport. Although not confirmed, King believes the Lobos will face Neville (Monroe, LA) in the annual showcase.
<span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>By the Numbers: 2013 edition</strong></span>
<strong>22</strong> – Where the Lobos finished on the plus side of the turnover margin. It was -1 at the end of 2012.
<strong>5295</strong> – Final total yards for the offense. (2927 rushing, 2368 passing). Lobo underclassman accounted for 4326 of that total. The defense allowed 3683 yards on the season (1432 rushing, 2251 passing)
<strong>270</strong> – The combined total that Longview outscored opponents this season, including seven games where Longview scored 40-plus points.
<span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Names to Remember: Class of 2015</strong></span>
OL – Broderick Washington
TE – Emmanuel Gordon
WR – Antonio Carter (played S in 2013)
RB – JaMycal Hasty
RB – Marquies Hunter (24 carries, 213 yards, 4 TDs; 4 catches, 48 yards)
QB – Dezmond Chumley
DL – Omar French (48 tackles, 17 TFL, 8 sacks, 2 FF, blocked punt)
DL – Jaylon Jackson (75 tackles, 2 TFL, FF, 5 FR, PBU)
DB – Jakorvian Walker (28 tackles, 3 PBU, INT)