Nacogdoches + Lufkin Renew Rivalry In District 16-5A Showdown
Lufkin Panthers (2-1)
Nacogdoches Dragons (3-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Dragon Stadium, Nacogdoches
- Lufkin: Todd Quick
- Nacogdoches: Bobby Reyes
- Lufkin: idle
- Nacogdoches: idle
- Lufkin: vs. Whitehouse, Oct. 3
- Nacogdoches: at Ennis, Oct. 3
- CB Jaylon Lane, Sr., 6-2, 180 (East Texas’ Class of 2015 scholarship leader with 38 offers)
- S Corey Lane, Jr., 5-11, 185 (22 tackles)
- QB Hunter McClellan, Sr., 6-2, 175 (10 passing TDs, 1 INTs, 824 yards)
- CB Latavion “Tay” Forest, Sr., 5-10, 180
- WR Ken Rogers, Sr., 5-11, 167 (14 catches, 253 yards, 3 TDs)
- RB Coronado Tolbert, Sr. (85 carries, 590 yards, 4 TDs)
- K Rudy Fuentes, Sr. (2 game winning kicks)
- WR KeKe Coutee, Sr., 5-10, 165 (15 catches, 184 yards, 1 TD, 2 punt return TDs)
- WR Terry Mark, Sr., 6-1, 190 (12 catches, 164 yards, 3 TDs; committed to Houston)
- OL Erik McCoy, Sr., 6-4, 297
- OL Brandon Larue, Sr., 6-3, 321
- DE/LB Bronson “Boom” Massie, Jr., 6-3, 202
- QB Trey Cumbie, Sr., 6-2, 200 (5 passing TDs, 564 yards)
- RB Steven Sowell, Sr. (63 carries, 406 yards, 6 TDs)
- DL Tyrique Spencer, Sr.
- DB Mister Calloway, Jr., 6-2, 175
- DB Dre Hooper, Sr., 5-11, 180
Just the facts
- Lufkin has absolutely dominated the series against Nacogdoches, but things might have taken a turn last season with the Dragons topping the Panthers, 28-24, in non-district play. Nacogdoches' last win prior to 2013 against Lufkin was in 1992.
- Playoff implications will be on the line. Both teams are members of a very tough District 16-5A.
- Nacogdoches has enjoyed a major turnaround under third-year head coach Bobby Reyes. The Dragons went 0-10 his first year in 2012, but Reyes has a 10-4 record since.
- Nacogdoches features the most highly recruited player in East Texas in both the 2015 and 2016 classes. Senior cornerback Jaylon Lane (38 FBS offers) will be available, but junior safety Brandon Jones (30 FBS offers) has been lost for the season with a torn PCL in his knee.
- Lufkin has at least three future college football players of its own. Receiver and return specialist KeKe Coutee is being recruited by multiple major conference teams, receiver Terry Mark is verbally committed to Houston and offensive tackle Erik McCoy has major offers from Kansas and Oklahoma State.
- Lufkin played within a touchdown of River Ridge (La.) John Curtis in its last game and squandered two late possessions to tie the game. John Curtis is the No. 20 team nationally, according to USA Today's poll.
- Nacogdoches won games against Kilgore and Hallsville on late field goals before a relatively easy, 34-14, win over Carthage in its last game.
Key matchup: Nacogdoches' offense versus Lufkin's defense. The Panthers are loaded offensively and should be able to score some points despite taking on Jaylon Lane and a physical Dragons defense. Consequently, Nacogdoches will have to at least match Lufkin's offensive pace.
Quarterback Hunter McClellan has done a fantastic job through his senior season with the Dragons. He has 824 passing yards and eight touchdowns to one interception through three games. He was the signal caller last season in the win against Lufkin, but he was lost for the season two games later with an injury.
Lufkin will have to pick their poison in this game. If it elects to emphasize its passing defense, Nacogdoches running back Coronado Tolbert will have to open field to work with if he gets past the defensive front.
Tolbert has 590 rushing yards and four touchdowns. That's the sixth-best rushing total in East Texas, and four of the leaders in front of him have already played their fourth game of the season.
The Panthers have their own two-pronged approach. Running back Steven Sowell isn't far behind Tolbert with 406 yards and an even better six touchdowns. Senior quarterback Trey Cumbie and receivers KeKe Coutee and Terry Mark constitute the core of a very dangerous passing attack.
Don't be surprised if: Friday's game is one of the best between the two schools. The Nacogdoches program could be in the process of reaching new heights while Lufkin certainly seems on the upswing as well. The two schools are about 15 minutes apart, and Dragon Stadium is an intimate stadium which will likely host a standing room crowd. Nacogdoches will need to play its best game yet under Reyes against Lufkin, but there will be plenty of energy in the crowd to feed the Dragons early.