ETSN Class 6A/5A Preseason Poll: No. 2, Lufkin Panthers
Lufkin almost always gets ranked when writers explore high school football culture around the nation. If the town doesn't get ranked, it's a bad oversight.
Panthers fans fill the home side of their 11,000-seat Abe Martin Stadium and spill over into designated seating on the away side. Whether it's getting riled up about a bad call or bad execution, the assuredly deserving offenders get to hear it from all directions.
Pack fans know football. And they know what good football looks like. This is the home of current NFLers Dez Bryant, Carrington Byndom and Jovorskie Lane plus more than a dozen other players that once played in the NFL on top of a ridiculous amount of players that gained fame in the college game.
Anyway, we don't think Lufkin's faithful will have much to be upset about this season. This campaign has been a long time coming.
The Pack will begin the year ranked second in ETSN.fm's Class 6A/5A poll ahead of No. 3 Marshall, No. 4 Longview, No. 5 Tyler Lee, No. 6 Texas High, No. 7 Nacogdoches, No. 8 Hallsville, No. 9 Lindale and No. 10 Whitehouse.
Lufkin will play Longview on Friday and follows that up with a game against Nacogdoches before venturing out of the region for its final eight games against mostly Greater Houston Area teams.
For several years now, you could see the framework of what's about to come down the pipe.
A very young good group of receivers began emerging in 2014 beyond current Texas Tech standout KeKe Coutee and current Houston receiver Terry Mark. An athletic quarterback popped up last season to compliment them in new ways.
This will be as good as it gets offensively before graduation begins to pick away at what easily could become East Texas' best offense through the next 11 weeks.
Senior receiver Dhailon Phillips owns Air Force and Texas State offers. Senior quarterback Kordell Rodgers is a Texas State commitment after putting up 2,142 passing yards and 23 touchdowns .
We're also high on receivers Jeremiah Davis and Malik Jackson -- both of whom are juniors -- as well as senior Javante Ellington.
You add running back Khalil Brown and several experienced linemen into the mix and you have yourself a unit that screams district championship.
The divide between being a good team and a great team sits on the defensive side of the ball.
Only five starters return defensively to the offense's seven, but Savon Fields is back at safety after a breakout sophomore season to make sure not much breaks over the top of the defense.
Isaiah Phillips packs a punch at linebacker and headlines a decent overall defensive front despite the loss of former end Bronson Massie to Kansas State.
If the six defensive newcomers come along as a whole, you have our blessing to think bigger than the District 12-6A championship.
2016 Lufkin Panthers Football Schedule
|Aug. 26||Longview||W 35-24|
|Sept. 2||at Nacogdoches||W 42-28|
|Sept. 10||vs. Bossier City (La.) Parkway (at Shreveport)||L 69-54|
|Sept. 16||Prepa Tec (Monterrey, Mexico)||W 35-7|
|Sept. 23||*The Woodlands College Park||W 58-17|
|Sept. 30||*at The Woodlands||L 63-42|
|Oct. 14||*Beaumont West Brook||L 70-63|
|Oct. 21||*at Conroe Oak Ridge||W 31-21|
|Oct. 28||*Conroe||W 34-21|
|Nov. 4||*at Montgomery||W 40-21|
|Nov. 11||(BI-DISTRICT): vs. John Tyler||L 50-49|