PREVIEW: Nacogdoches, Lufkin Meet in Storied Rivalry Game
Nacogdoches Dragons (0-1)
Lufkin Panthers (0-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Abe Martin Stadium, Lufkin
- Nacogdoches: Bobby Reyes
- Lufkin: Todd Quick
- Nacogdoches: vs. Tyler Lee
- Lufkin: vs John Tyler
- LB/DB DaRyan Williams, Sr., 6-0, 195
- OL Harrison Gibbs, Sr., 6-2, 295
- DL Ben Whitaker, Sr., 6-1, 250
- LB Stephan Adams, Sr., 6-0, 220
- WR Jed Morgan, Sr., 5-7, 165
- WR Dre Rogers, Sr., 6-4, 170
- WR Malik Jackson, Sr., 5-10, 170 (committed to Houston)
- OL Hunter Hollis, Sr., 6-3, 300
- DB Savon Fields, Sr., 5-9, 175
- WR/DL Breylon Garcia, Jr., 6-4, 210
- RB Isaiah Phillips, Sr., 5-9, 185
- WR Ja'Lynn Polk, Soph., 6-2, 175
- OL Quynton Cole, Sr.
Just the facts
- This is one of the oldest rivalries in the state, with the two teams meeting for the 99th time on Friday.
- Since 2004, Lufkin owns a 10-2 record against Nacogdoches.
- The Panthers won last season's matchup against the Dragons, 42-28.
- In last week's loss to Longview, Ja'Lynn Polk led Lufkin with 77 yards receiving. Not far behind was Houston commit Malik Jackson, who had 42 yards on seven catches.
- Nacogdoches' last win against Lufkin came in 2014 by a score of 38-35.
- The Dragons' Jed Moore returned a punt 94 yards for a touchdown last week against Kilgore.
- Lufkin's Isaiah Phillips had 165 yards and two touchdowns against Longview.
Key matchup: Malik Jackson and Ja'Lynn Polk against DaRyan Williams and the Nacogdoches defensive backs. Lufkin has a lot of talent at receiver. Polk is only a sophomore but already has the size to blossom into an elite receiver. College are showing interest and he has an offer from Illinois.
Jackson is committed to Houston and was a weapon for the Panthers last season. He racked up 916 yards receiving and six touchdowns. Together, the two make it difficult on defenses. Throw Braylon Garcia in the mix, and it's a guessing game for defenses trying to figure out who to cover.
That said, Nacogdoches has some talent in its secondary.
DaRyan Williams is a Division I-level talent, with offers already from Texas State and Tulane. Last season he forced plenty of fumbles and will prove to be valuable to the Dragons once again.
Covering Lufkin's receivers is never easy, but if there is a defense equipped for it, it's Nacogdoches.
Don't be surprised if: Kewone Thomas has a better performance than last week. Lufkin was getting hammered by Longview's defense, making it difficult for Thomas to make smart decisions. He still had a respectable game, coming away with 157 yards on 16-of-33 passing and an interception.
If he can put up that kind of performance against a defense the caliber of Longview's, he should have an easier time this week. That is not to say that Nacogdoches is a slouch on defense, but it would be surprising if it were to get the type of pressure Longview did. The Lobos had eight sacks, and it's hard to see the Dragons matching that number.