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Longview Lobos ready for festive home opener

By Hayden Henry
Sept. 8, 2016 at 10:59 p.m.


Home sweet home.

Tonight, for the first time since October 2015, Longview will take the field at Lobo Stadium.

"It's nice to play a game here," Longview head coach John King said after the Lobos opened the season with road trips to Lufkin and Marshall. "I'm sure it'll be a big crowd with homecoming and Green Out.

"It's been a long time since we've played here. We need to get ready because it's going to be a heck of a football team across the way."

Unfamiliar to the Lobos and the team across the field will be the South Oak Cliff Golden Bears. The two teams are meeting for the first time since 1991, however, there are some connections between the two schools — some family connections. South Oak Cliff's head coach, Jason Todd, is the son-in-law of longtime Lobo coach Oscar Wilson.

"He was talking about getting a good test before their district schedule starts," Wilson said. "So it worked out that they get a road trip to experience East Texas football."

The two teams will meet tonight and again in the 2017 season, also at Lobo Stadium.

"Coach Todd mentioned something about coming here for a game and we agreed," King said. "It's a good challenge for everyone. He wanted a playoff-style atmosphere for his guys and a road game to challenge his players and help them down the road."

South Oak Cliff makes the trek to Lobo Stadium with a 0-2 mark on the season. With losses against Ennis and Lancaster, King said its a record that doesn't represent what kind of team the Lobos will see.

"Their record is not indicative of how good they are," he said. "I remember talking with Jason last year and he said he wanted to test his team in non-district. Well, Ennis, Lancaster and Longview — that's a good test.

"They were in the game late with Ennis and, against Lancaster, a few big plays and a defensive touchdown kind of blew it open."

So what should the Lobos expect from South Oak Cliff? Speed, King said. Speed where? Everywhere.

"They're a talented football team," King said. "They've got explosive playmakers offensively and a ton of team speed defensively. They can fly."

Defensively, King said the Lobos must contain the perimeter and the speed of the offense and the game.

"We've got to get lined up fast because they're going to play fast," he said.

Offensively, King said it's another matchup in the trenches against South Oak Cliff's defensive front.

"We can't let their two tackles disrupt everything — they're solid players," he said. "They've got physical and athletic linebackers.

"It's amazing how many hats can get to the football. They're like a bunch of bees."

Tonight wraps the non-district slate for the Lobos (1-1) before beginning District 11-6A on Sept. 16 at home against Mesquite Horn.

BY THE NUMBERS

Here's a by-the-numbers look at the Lobo offense and defense heading into the final tuneup of the 2016 season:

OFFENSE: It's an equation for the Lobos offensively: Ball security, time of possession and first downs equal touchdowns, King said. Paced by senior running back Kendrevian White, who enters tonight with 305 rushing yards on 36 carries and six touchdowns, the Lobos have hit the ground 79 percent of the time this season, running 95 rushing plays to 25 passing attempts, which has accounted for nine of Longview's 10 touchdowns through two games. On those touchdowns, five scoring drives have been 60-plus yards with a long of 75 and three have consisted of 10 or more plays. The Lobos have a 45 percent conversion rate on third down with an average distance of eight yards. The Lobos have taken 120 snaps to 105 from their opponents.

DEFENSE: Moving parts describes the Lobo defense through two games as they have rotated in and out of four different packages, all stemming from what the opposing offense has shown. The Lobo defense has held opponents to 8-for-23 on third downs and 2-for-4 on fourth downs with two forced three-and-outs on the season. All three of the turnovers from the Lobo defense have been generated by sophomore safety Jephaniah Lister — two forced fumbles and an interception. Opposing teams have 18 negative-yardage plays on the season.

(Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: @hayden_h)

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