Both Lufkin and Longview have an impressive group of alumni, many of which have gone on to enjoy great college and pro careers — players like Chris Ivory, Trent Williams and Javorskie Lane, to name a few.
Of course, there is perhaps no more accomplished alumnus on that list than Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant.
As a junior and senior at Lufkin, Bryant totaled 2,232 yards, 37 touchdowns and a couple of All-America selections. The Panthers went 25-2 from 2005-’06 with No. 8 lined up on the outside — Oh, and they never lost to the Lobos.
In advance of Saturday’s UIL Class 6A-2 semifinal matchup between the two rivals, FloFootball contributor Nikki Chavanelle caught up with Dez to get his take. Here’s what he had to say:
Dez on Lufkin:
"I stay on them and I’ve kept up with them because there’s a couple guys in the locker room here that went to Longview so we’ve been talking smack. We’re doing little fun bets and stuff on who’s going to win and you better believe if we weren’t flying out to play tomorrow I’d be on the road to Nacogdoches to watch them play."
On Lufkin’s loss to Longview on Sept. 1:
"It was nothing. That was the beginning of the year. Not to make excuses for the program but Lufkin’s a powerhouse. If they have issues they fix them and they win games. In the playoffs it’s a whole different ballgame."
On what he would tell current players:
"I would be straight with them and tell them that, even though the season is very long, put it all out there right now. You want to know that you gave it all you got. Leave the field with no regrets. Playoffs only happen once a year so appreciate the moment."
On the Lufkin community:
"The Lufkin community is the best ever. They’re the greatest support group from my experience. When it’s a Friday night, Lufkin is a ghost town. Everyone is supporting the Panthers. Everyone knows who Lufkin is, not just East Texas, they know the Panthers all over. Everyone in the community loves one another and supports each other. The football program is everything to the community and that makes everything so special."
On his memories of matchups against Longview:
"We smacked them every time. We played them on national TV and we never lost to Longview. Not once. And I know we’re going to smack them again tomorrow."