The Lufkin Panthers will kick off an emotional 2012 football season tonight at a familiar venue against a familiar opponent, the No. 3 John Tyler Lions in the Game of the Week in the Trinity Mother Frances Football Classic.

For the first time since the mid-1990s the Pack will have a coach other than the late John Outlaw. And that man will be Coach Outlaw’s right hand man for the last 26 years, Todd Quick. Emotions for everyone since Outlaw's death on Dec. 23 have been like a roller coaster, but come tonight at 7:30, everyone’s focus and attention will be on these high-flying John Tyler Lions.

These two teams have had some great battles over the years, but it’s hard to beat the last four. Lufkin's three wins have been by a combined seven points, and John Tyler won by nine in 2009. Lions first-year head coach Ricklan Holmes has a lot of reasons to be excited. With nine starters back on offense, including quarterback Greg Ward, who accounted for more than 5,200 total yards and 54 touchdowns on last year's state semifinalist squad.

But it doesn’t stop there, as wide receivers Fred Ross and Darion Flowers combined for 164 receptions and 32 total touchdowns. The JT defense also returns seven starters, including leading tackler Richard Gipson and sack leader Tyus Bowser.

The Panthers, on the other hand, are coming off a 9-2 season and a heartbreaking playoff loss to Spring Westfield in the state quarterfinals. Lufkin not only ushers in a new a coach, but returns only four starters on defense and five on offense.

New defensive coordinator Brooke Stafford will rely on seniors Demontrai Lewis, DJ Alexander and D’Vante Botley to anchor the defense in the early going. Offensively, the Panthers will be strong at wide receiver with senior Jabrice Taylor and junior Jamal Jefferies returning, and with the addition of sophomores KeKe Coutee and Terry Mark. But with a new quarterback and three new offensive linemen, offensive coordinator Scott Green will have some questions heading into tonight’s ballgame.

Here is my interview with Coach Quick on our coach's show today:

You can listen to John Tyler-Lufkin tonight live online right here, and don't forget to check out our preview of our Game of the Week, too.