ETSN.fm 2013 Preseason Class 5A/4A Poll: No. 2 Lufkin
High-powered passing attack? Check. Veteran 4-3 defense? Check. High expectations for the 2013 season? Check.
Lufkin won nine games a year ago and reached the third round of the Class 5A Division II Region II playoffs. With 13 starters back from that squad, the Panthers have the potential to not only match that performance this fall, but exceed it.
It's true that several key pieces from last year's team are gone. Tyler Stubblefield, who threw for 3,582 yards and 39 touchdowns in 2012, is now a pitcher at Texas A&M. JaBryce Taylor, who finished first in East Texas in receiving yards (1,628) last season, is now a receiver at SMU. Kendrick Mapps eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing plateau, but he graduated, too. Demontrai Lewis recorded 12 sacks before signing with Sam Houston State.
Fear not, Pack fans.
Lufkin had East Texas' best 7-on-7 performance of the summer behind new quarterback Trey Cumbie, who has three college-caliber receivers running routes for him: junior KeKe Coutee (committed to Texas), senior Jamal Jeffery (committed to Texas A&M), and junior Terry Mark (offered by Houston). Linemen Erik McCoy, Dominick Hall, and Wacey Hartman lead an experienced line that should give Cumbie plenty of time to get the ball to those weapons.
Defensively, Lufkin's vastly improved play during the second half of last season should carry to 2013. D.J. Williams, Lufkin's 6-foot-4, 293-pound defensive tackle, anchors the front after recording 58 tackles and four sacks in a breakout junior season. He appears to be the next in a long line of Division I FBS defensive linemen from Lufkin and enters his senior season with offers from Houston, Miami, Missouri, North Texas, and Oklahoma.
Playing behind Williams will be linebackers DeAngelo Hightower and D.J. Alexander and safety Michael Farley, who combined for almost 200 tackles in 2012.
The talent is definitely in place for the Panthers to not only contend with The Woodlands for the District 14-5A championship, but make an impressive postseason run. Their Aug. 30 season opener vs. John Tyler, Sept. 20 game at Longview, and Oct. 12 game at The Woodlands will be huge tests to possibly gauge where the Panthers could wind up come November.