PREVIEW: Lufkin Hosts State-Ranked The Woodlands on Friday
No. 9 The Woodlands Highlanders (1-1, 0-0)
Lufkin Panthers (4-1, 1-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Abe Martin Stadium, Lufkin
- The Woodlands: Mark Schmid
- Lufkin: Todd Quick
- The Woodlands: idle
- Lufkin: def. The Woodlands College Park, 21-3
- The Woodlands: vs. Beaumont West Brook, Oct. 12
- Lufkin: idle
- DB Ethan Bonner, Sr., 6-0, 170 (committed to Stanford)
- OL Jake Syptak, Sr., 6-5, 270 (committed to SMU)
- WR KeSean Carter, Sr., 6-0, 155 (committed to Texas Tech)
- QB Quinn Binney, Sr., 6-1, 195
- WR Zayne Watson, Sr., 5-10, 190
- RB Bryeton Gilford, Soph., 5-10, 192
- WR Malik Jackson, Sr., 5-11, 170 (26 catches, 230 yards, 4 TDs; 7 carries, 121 yards, 2 TDs; committed to Houston)
- DL Carl Williams, Jr., 6-4, 306 (11 tackles, 2 for loss, 1 sack)
- WR/DL Breylon Garcia, Jr., 6-4, 215 (11 catches, 249 yards, 2 TDs; 4 tackles, 2 QB pressures)
- RB Isaiah Phillips, Sr., 5-9, 185 (92 carries, 585 yards, 9 TDs; 2 catches, 15 yards, 0 TDs)
- DB Jeremiah Davis, Sr., 6-0, 180 (31 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 3 PBUs)
- WR Ja'Lynn Polk, Soph., 6-2, 175 (12 catches, 245 yards, 0 TDs)
- DB Savon Fields, Sr., 5-9, 168 (16 tackles, 3 PBUs)
- QB Kewone Thomas, Jr., 6-2, 190 (64 of 108, 873 yards, 8 TDs, 3 INTs; 52 carries, 173 yards, 5 TDs)
Just the facts
- Lufkin and The Woodlands shared the same district from 2004-13, and last season. Lufkin is 6-5 in its previous 11 meetings with The Woodlands.
- The Highlanders won last season's matchup, 63-42.
- The Woodlands is averaging 36.5 points and allowing 18 points per game through its first two games of the season.
- The Highlanders' first two games of the year were canceled because of Hurricane Harvey.
- The Woodlands went 15-1 last season, falling to Lake Travis in the Class 6A Division I state championship game.
- Lufkin is averaging 34.6 points and 401.8 yards per game -- 214.2 rushing and 187.6 passing.
- The Panthers have not won five games in a row since 2012.
- Lufkin's defense is allowing 21.4 points and 289.6 yards per game -- 93.6 rushing and 196 passing.
Key matchup: Lufkin rushing attack vs. The Woodlands defensive front. There may not be a more valuable player in East Texas through the first five weeks than Lufkin senior running back Isaiah Phillips. A converted linebacker, Phillips has thrived in his first season as a featured ball carrier. He enters Friday's showdown with ninth-ranked The Woodlands with 585 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground, meaning Phillips is on pace for more than 1,100 yards and 18 TD's on the regular season. Lufkin's ability to establish its running game has helped the Panthers new quarterback, junior Kewone Thomas, ease into his first year on the job.
If Lufkin is able to dictate the tempo with the run, the Panthers will be in position to make big plays through the air with their trio of standout receivers. Senior Malik Jackson, junior Breylon Garcia, and sophomore Ja'Lynn Polk are all Division I college targets, and collectively, they are averaging almost 15 yards per reception.
Don't be surprised if: Friday's game is much more low-scoring than last year's meeting, a 63-42 win for The Woodlands. Neither offense has put up the kind of numbers they did a season ago, and both defenses appear to be stronger at this point of the season.
Lufkin is allowing less than 100 rushing yards per game, and has limited its last two opponents to a combined 10 points. The Woodlands, meanwhile, held a pair of formidable offenses -- Katy and Richmond George Ranch -- to a total of 45 points, and has had two weeks to prepare for the Lufkin offense.