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Lufkin Goes Unbeaten in “Pool of Death” at Division I 7-on-7 Football State Tournament

Lufkin receiver Jamal Jeffery had a big day during the Panthers’ 3-0 run through pool play Friday at the Division I 7-on-7 state tournament in Leander. (ETSN.fm)

LEANDER — When your pool has a nickname before the tournament even starts, that’s usually not a good sign.

Lufkin was unfazed.

The Panthers squeaked out close wins against Katy and Arlington Lamar and pulled away late vs. Cedar Hill to win the Pool D crown Friday at the Division I 7-on-7 state tournament at Southwest Williamson County Regional Park.

With multiple perennial state powers in the same group, Pool D was jokingly dubbed the “Pool of Death” by media members prior to the start of the D-I tournament. Lufkin fended off the Grim Reaper thanks to a 34-32 win against Katy, a 32-19 victory vs. Cedar Hill, and a thrilling 46-44 shootout win over Arlington Lamar in the Panthers’ final game of the day.

Lufkin QB Trey Cumbie. (ETSN.fm)

Lufkin broke up a Lamar two-point conversion in the end zone on the final play of the game to secure the victory and 3-0 Pool D record. The win also preserved Lufkin’s perfect summer.

“We haven’t lost yet,” said quarterback Trey Cumbie of the Panthers’ unbeaten 7-on-7 campaign in 2013. “We just wanted to show everyone what we could do. We did what we knew we could do and tried not let anything faze us.”

Cumbie threw seven touchdown passes in the 46-44 win against Arlington Lamar. Lufkin receivers — especially Texas A&M-bound senior Jamal Jeffery, who scored four times — terrorized Lamar. Lufkin led 25-16 at halftime thanks to three Jeffery touchdowns, including a leaping, highlight-reel snag over two Lamar defenders for a 45-yard (length of the field) touchdown and nine-point halftime margin.

Jeffery’s first touchdown saw him catch the ball streaking across the field, make a move, then accelerate past Lamar’s final two defenders for a score. He also made a juggling touchdown grab for a 12-7 lead. Demaria Houston also caught a first-half Cumbie touchdown throw, and linebacker DeAngelo Hightower picked off a pass.

Lufkin WR/ATH KeKe Coutee. (ETSN.fm)

“Our coaches told us we can be happy for now,”Jeffery said of winning the pool, “but overnight we’re gonna forget about this and get ready for (Saturday).”

Lufkin and Lamar exchanged touchdowns the entire second half. Jeffery scored early for his fourth touchdown and a 32-23 lead.

After a Lamar touchdown, Cumbie hit Texas-committed junior Key’Vantanie “KeKe” Coutee on a short touchdown throw for a 39-30 lead. Lamar cut that advantage to 39-38, but Cumbie answered again, finding Bobby Howard for a short touchdown and 46-38 lead, setting up Lamar’s final touchdown that preceded the two-point incompletion to preserve Lufkin’s perfect record.

Lufkin plays Mesquite Poteet at 9 a.m. Saturday in a first-round game in the Division I championship bracket. The winner plays Hutto or Pasadena Memorial in the second round at 10:15 a.m.

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