Lufkin Finishes Weekend 5-1 at Division I 7-on-7 Football State Tournament
LEANDER -- Lufkin entered the Division I 7-on-7 state tournament undefeated and got six games deep into the weekend before losing its perfect mark.
Powered by an elite group of receivers and new starting quarterback Trey Cumbie, Lufkin reached the D-I championship bracket quarterfinal round Saturday, dropping a 48-27 decision to end the Panthers' five-game tournament winning streak and unbeaten summer.
Nevertheless, Lufkin showed glimpses of what could be a ferocious offense this fall. The Panthers went 3-0 Friday in Pool D -- dubbed by media prior to the tournament as the "Pool of Death" -- before beating Mesquite Poteet 46-14 and Pasadena Memorial 49-27 in their first two championship bracket contests Saturday morning.
Texas A&M-committed senior receiver Jamal Jeffery terrorized opposing secondaries. After his four-touchdown performance led Lufkin to a 46-44 pool win vs. Arlington Lamar to finish Friday's 3-0 run, the 5-foot-10, 164-pound scored caught four more touchdown passes against Pasadena Memorial and 23-yard first-half touchdown vs. Arlington Bowie.
Lufkin fell behind 33-13 at halftime to Bowie before Cumbie, a junior, threw consecutive touchdown passes -- the second a 15-yarder to junior Texas pledge KeKe Coutee -- that cut Bowie's lead to 33-27. Junior receiver Terry Mark made a leaping grab on the PAT to trim the lead to six points.
But Bowie answered with a touchdown and an interception return for a score to put the game away.
Lufkin's championship bracket quarterfinal run was the best performance among East Texas' five teams that participated in the Division I tournament and gave fans a preview of what might be ahead for the Panthers this fall.
"We got out of 7-on-7 what we wanted to," said Lufkin head coach Todd Quick. "The kids are together and they like each other. The more they hang out the more they trust each other, and that's a big thing when you start talking about people laying it on the line on Friday nights. We got to work every situation. We got to work a situation here where we were down. Are they gonna fight back? We never questioned that, but you want to see it. You want to practice that, and you can't do that in the weight room. We're pleased with our effort, pleased with what our kids did. It's not what they wanted, but in the long run we got something out of this."
Jadarius Carroll and Deandre Hooper each had interceptions against Memorial. Hooper's came on a PAT, which he returned for two points. Cumbie's sixth touchdown pass of that contest went to Kenny Gilbert on a three-yard pass.
Cumbie's role entering 2013 is not enviable. He replaces Texas A&M baseball signee Tyler Stubblefield, who threw for 3,582 yards, 39 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions during the Panthers' 9-4 campaign in 2012.
But Cumbie, who holds a baseball offer from Rice, has shown during spring practice and summer 7-on-7 that he's ready to be the next in a long line of talented left-handed Lufkin quarterbacks.
"Trey's a baseball payer so Trey's gone from January until the last week in April," Quick said. "Him building his relationship with those receivers, the receivers are good but if the quarterback can't get them the ball they're not very good. So this just gave him a couple of months more with timing and just getting to know each other. This allowed them to build a little trust and build a little timing."
Lufkin starts fall practice Monday, Aug. 12. The Panthers' first day in pads is Friday, Aug. 16.