Nacogdoches Dragons (1-0)

vs.

No. 5 Lufkin Panthers (0-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Abe Martin Stadium, Lufkin

Coaches

  • Nacogdoches: Bobby Reyes
  • Lufkin: Todd Quick

Last week

Next week

  • Nacogdoches: vs. Tyler Lee, Sept. 14
  • Lufkin: vs. Monterrey Prep Tech, Sept. 14

Players to watch

Nacogdoches

  • QB Jake Smith, Jr., 6-3, 185 (14 of 19, 207 yards, 2 TDs)
  • OL Riley Birdwell, Jr., 6-4, 330
  • WR Jatavious Deckard, Jr., 6-0, 195 (3 catches, 112 yards, TD)
  • WR Karlus Flanagan, Sr., 5-7, 140 (7 catches, 95 yards, TD)
  • RB Camorian Thacker, Soph., 5-5, 160 (20 carries, 90 yards, 2 TDs)
  • DL Jaylon Flanagan, Sr., 6-2, 239 (5 tackles, 4 for loss)
  • DE/LB Brad Williams, Sr., 5-11, 200 (10 tackles, 3 for loss, 1 blocked kick)
  • DB Ke'Undre Deckard, Jr., 5-11, 180 (1 INT, 1 PBU, 1 forced fumble)

Lufkin

  • DE Javasia Brunson, Sr., 6-4, 235
  • S Jerrin Thompson, Jr., 6-2, 175
  • DE Breylon Garcia, Sr., 6-4, 230 (committed to Nevada)
  • WR Ja'Lynn Polk, Jr., 6-2, 175 (6 catches, 119 yards, TD)
  • QB Jordan Moore, Soph., 6-2, 185 (13 of 22, 181 yards, 3 TD, INT; 12 carries, 36 yards)
  • OLB De'Andre Bagley, Sr., 5-11, 180
  • RB Caleb Berry, Soph., 6-2, 180 (12 carries, 36 yards; 1 catch, 7 yards)
  • CB Demond McKelvey, Sr., 6-0, 177

Just the facts

  • This is the 69th meeting between Lufkin and Nacogdoches since World War II. Lufkin leads the series during that span, 59-8-1.
  • Nacogdoches' only win over Lufkin in the last 26 years came in 2014.
  • Nacogdoches put up 329 yards of offense in last week's 37-20 win over Kilgore.
  • The Dragons' defense made eight tackles for loss and forced two turnovers in Week 1.
  • Nacogdoches' last 2-0 start to a season occurred in 2014.
  • Lufkin put up 337 yards of offense last week's 35-28 loss to Longview.
  • The Panthers' allowed 351 yards of offense in Week 1.
  • Lufkin hasn't begun a season 0-2 since 1992.
Lufkin DE Javasia Brunson. (© Clint Buckley, ETSN.fm)

Key matchup: Nacogdoches rushing attack vs. Lufkin defensive front. There will be a ton of pressure on the Nacogdoches offensive line Friday as it lines up against one of the best defensive lines in the state of Texas. Protecting quarterback Jake Smith, who had a solid 2018 debut last week, will obviously be key, but taking the burden off the passing game will be just as, if not more, important. The Dragons had modest success on the ground last week against Kilgore, running for 122 yards. But more will be needed if Nacogdoches' offense is to have any chance of having a significant impact on the game. If the rushing attack fails to establish itself, that will make things difficult on Smith and Co.

Nacogdoches QB Jake Smith. (© Mark Martin, ETSN.fm)

Lufkin's defense did a nice job against Longview's power run game last week, limiting the Lobos' bruising running back Jessie Anderson to just 41 yards on 10 carries. The Panthers were especially tough against the run in 2017, limiting opponents to less than four yards per carry. The availability of star defensive tackle and Arkansas commit Carl Williams, who missed last week's game to injury, remains in doubt. But both Panthers defensive ends, Javasia Brunson and Breylon Garcia, are more than capable of making stops against the run.

Don't be surprised if: Lufkin features its running game a little more in Week 2. The duo of junior Qu'vontae Smallwood and sophomore Caleb Berry played well in stretches against Longview, as the Panthers seek to replace 2,000-yard rusher and Louisiana-Monroe signee Isaiah Phillips. Sophomore quarterback Jordan Moore, filling in for injured starter Kewone Thomas, was also able to get in the mix for Lufkin's running game last week. The Panthers' best big-play threats -- Ja'Lynn Polk, Titan Williams, and Christian Reggie -- are receivers, but if Lufkin can develop a strong rushing attack, the Panthers could be in line for some big nights on the offensive side of the ball this season.