Games of the Year, No. 5: The Woodlands-Lufkin A Budding Rivalry With Huge Implications
The Highlanders and Lufkin Panthers never faced one another on the gridiron before being placed in the same district in 2004. And every year since, this game has ultimately decided a district championship, which could again be the case this year when the two meet in Lufkin on Oct. 12.
Lufkin leads the all-time series 6-2, including last season’s 30-10 win that gave the late coach John Outlaw his 300th career victory. Both programs have enjoyed success in recent years. Since 1998, The Woodlands sports a 128-44 record and Lufkin is 145-34.
Despite finishing second to Lufkin in the district a season ago, The Woodlands rolled all the way to the 5A Division I state quarterfinals where the Highlanders were eliminated by Dallas Skyline, 35-31.
The Highlanders’ biggest strength should be along their offensive line, which is anchored by senior tackle Sam Kronshage (6-5, 275). The Woodlands’ top offensive playmaker figures to be receiver Jayme Taylor, whose 6-4, 225-pound frame should create matchup problems with opposing secondaries.
Lufkin, under longtime Outlaw assistant Todd Quick, is not short on size and athleticism. Anchoring a fast and physical defense will be the Panthers’ line tandem of D’vante Botley and Demontrai Lewis (6-3, 220). Lufkin’s go-to guy on offense figures to be receiver JaBryce Taylor (6-1, 180), who has committed to SMU.
The biggest challenge for the Panthers offensively will be how quick the quarterback position develops.
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