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2013 East Texas Football Games of the Year, No. 6: John Tyler at Lufkin

Lufkin’s D’Angelo Hightower. (© Christopher R. Vinn/

Once upon a time, John Tyler and Lufkin shared the same district. Then, Lufkin was sent south to join a Houston-area district. After that, JT dropped in classification to 4A, creating further separation between the longtime rivals.

But by no means has the rivalry diminished; it’s still very much alive and well. And for the second consecutive season, the Pack and Cujo will open the season against one another on Aug. 30 in Lufkin.

The roles appear to be reversed from the 2012 encounter. JT entered with sky-high expectations after returning most of its firepower from a team that reached the state semifinals the year before. Lufkin, meanwhile, had several new faces at the forefront, including the man at the top. It was the Panthers’ first game without longtime head coach John Outlaw on the sideline; Outlaw passed away unexpectedly from heart attack during the offseason.

When the game got going, it was clear John Tyler’s big-play capabilities on offense were going to be difficult for Lufkin to stop. The Lions scored a 35-21 victory with their five touchdowns covering an average of 57.4 yards.

This year’s meeting appears to favor Lufkin. While the Panthers must replace 3,500-yard passer Tyler Stubblefield and 1,000-yard rusher Kendrick Mapp, the Panthers feature one of the best receiving corps in the state in senior Jamal Jeffery (Texas A&M commit) and junior Texas commit Keke Coutee.

John Tyler, meanwhile, has considerably fewer impact players returning. Not only do the Lions have to replace all-state quarterback Greg Ward, JT will be without its top three receivers from 2012. 2013 Preseason Top 25 Games of the Year

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