Longview Looks to Keep Momentum Going in District + Beyond
A 52-34 loss to Mesquite Horn to start district was not exactly in the cards for Longview this season. But as tired as the cliche is, it's not how you start. It's how you finish.
The Lobos are proof of that.
After that loss, in which Longview had six turnovers on offense and allowed more than 500 yards defensively, the Lobos returned to the drawing board. The result? Four consecutive district wins and a shot at a home playoff game.
"The biggest thing is our defense has been playing good football creating turnovers and getting stops in key situations. And offensively we're doing enough to score some points and come out with some wins," Longview coach John King said on Wednesday.
After allowing 52 points from Mesquite Horn, Longview's defense is surrendering just 18.3 points per game in the four wins since. The Lobos forced two turnovers, a safety and made five sacks on the road against John Tyler last Friday night. It was the fewest points JT had scored in a game all season.
"Our defense was huge (against John Tyler). Both of us were in the same situation playing for a playoff spot and for a chance for a home game to open the playoffs. We got a big win against a very good football team," King said.
King said his defense came into this season with a chip on its shoulder, especially after Longview's 34-33 loss in the first round of the playoffs last year to Beaumont West Brook.
"We knew we had to get better. We gave up too many big plays last year," King said. "The guys are executing their assignments and making people earn it. They have a better understanding this year of what defensive football is, they're not being selfish and they're executing assignments."
One of the big changes made was moving to Jalen Carr to cornerback. This week's Defensive Player of the Week is second in East Texas in interceptions with six, with one coming against John Tyler and three in a 31-21 win over district rival Rockwall. He also blocked two kicks, made a sack and had seven tackles against JT.
That's been a big contribution to his defense's success, King said.
"This is a prideful bunch and they knew we had to play better," King said. "With the amount of experience we had returning, we knew it should be a strong point for us."
Another big change came on the offensive side of the ball, when King and his staff made the decision to make Haynes King, coach King's sophomore son, the full-time quarterback. He's been effective when asked, throwing nine touchdowns and nearly 1,000 yards this season.
But even with him being his son, the decision to make the change wasn't easy, coach King said.
"I coach them all the same. I don't coach him any differently other than I go home and eat supper with him. He's been around this field house since he was born," King said. "It's been fun, of course, but it was a difficult decision to make, quite honestly. I never had to make that decision before and I hope I never have to make it again. But it was a decision made by this staff.
"He's still a pup and makes some pup mistakes sometimes," King followed with a laugh, "but he's progressed and made some key plays in certain situations. I hope it keeps paying off down the road."
Up next for Longview (7-1, 4-1 in District 11-6A) is Rockwall-Heath, which sports the same district record as the Lobos and is also pursuing a home playoff game. A fifth consecutive district win would be evidence that Longview is on a mission.
"The only thing we've guaranteed ourselves is a playoff spot. We're still playing for a lot of other stuff that's still on the line," King said. "I think (a win) would be huge, particularly the way our district race started. Rockwall-Heath is playing for the same thing, so we've got a big one in front of us."