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What’s better than Longview-Lufkin? A Longview-Lufkin rematch for the region title and a spot in the final four of the Texas UIL Class 6A, Division II playoffs.
Saturday’s slugfest in Nacogdoches will be the 81st all-time meeting between the Lobos and Panthers in what is unquestionably one of the state’s most hotly contested rivalries. Incredibly, the series is nearly deadlocked, with Longview owning a 39-37-4 advantage thanks to four wins in the teams’ past five encounters.
The Lobos largely dominated Lufkin on the way to a 35-16 season-opening win back on Sept. 1 — but three months ago might as well be three years ago at this point.
The Panthers’ defense has been dominant during the playoffs, allowing just 36 total points across its first three matchups — including last week’s hard-fought 14-11 triumph over Spring Westfield.
Lufkin running back Isaiah Phillips has run all over everyone en route to this rematch, piling up 506 yards and six scores on 82 carries to pace an offense that is averaging over 250 rushing yards per contest in postseason play.
This Saturday afternoon, with many standing around the hill tops, estimated over 50,000 eyes will witness these two #bEASTtexas teams battle it out!#LongviewFootball #LufkinFootball #txhsfb pic.twitter.com/G4oEjaGrNQ— Mark Martin (@MarkMartin903) December 7, 2017
Phillips and the Panthers will face their biggest test of the playoffs on Saturday in a Longview defense that is allowing just three yards per carry and last week stuffed a Klein Collins ground attack that was unaccustomed to being stopped.
The Lobos handed Collins its first and only loss of the season on Saturday by holding the Tigers to 100 fewer yards on the ground than they averaged entering the contest. Isaiah Spiller got his, rushing for 132 yards on 24 carries, but the only other Tiger rusher to hit double figures was senior Josh Powell, who managed 23 yards.
As a result, Longview was able to rally from a 14-point deficit with 30 unanswered points — and an eventual 30-24 victory.
Safety Jephaniah Lister will be all over the field for the Lobos and linebackers Kevion Bush, Ja’Vontae Writt, and Cameron Starling are as disruptive a group as Lufkin will face.
Not for nothing, Longview tight end Jaylin Brown could emerge as an X-factor if he’s able to keep what has become an astounding touchdown streak alive. The sparingly utilized Brown has scored seven times in the Lobos’ past four games — including three scores on four receptions against Collins last week. The feat is made all the more impressive by the fact that the 6-foot-3 senior has caught just nine total passes over that span.
In other words, since Nov. 10, if Brown is catching a football, there’s a 77 percent chance it’s good for six points.
Saturday will be the sixth time the two programs have met more than once in the same season and the 10th time they’ve met in the postseason. Homer Bryce Stadium, on the campus of Stephen F. Austin University, will host the matchup for the first time since 2004 — a game that was played before a stadium record of more than 27,000 spectators.
Of course, you don’t have to mess with traffic, parking, or a jam-packed stadium. Instead, we’re bringing this storied rivalry to your living room live on FloFootball.com — along with five other UIL playoff games throughout the weekend.
So, kick back, relax, and enjoy the show.