When longtime East Texas heavyweights Lufkin and John Tyler meet on the gridiron this season, it will mark the first time since 2003 they'll do in district, when they both were members of the state's highest classification.

It took a gradual decline in enrollment for the Panthers and Lions to be reunited as league foes, and this year's meeting -- Oct. 10 in Tyler -- could go a long way in determining a District 16-5A championship.

Lufkin WR Terry Mark. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Despite not sharing the same district for more than a decade, Lufkin and JT have met each in each of the last six years, including the last four season openers. Lufkin is 4-2 against the Lions since the 2008 season.

From 1956 to 2003, Lufkin and John Tyler met 51 times as district rivals with JT holding a 27-21-3 series advantage.

In the 2013 season opener, Lufkin took a 52-28 victory over John Tyler as the Panthers' defense frustrated the Lions all night long by racking up 16 sacks and taking advantage of a pair of special teams mistakes.

For the Lions that night, several new playmakers were experiencing their first varsity experience, while Lufkin entered last season with high expectations as the Panthers returned the bulk of their impact players from the previous season's three-round playoff run.

Both Lufkin and John Tyler return quite a bit from last year, which should make for an exciting mid-October night on a field full of seasoned playmakers.

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