[By Stephen Amason, Special to ETSN.fm]

If there’s one thing the Lufkin Panthers have proven this season, it’s that you can have a loss on your record, and still be one of the scariest teams to face.

Lufkin (6-1, 4-0 in District 8-5A Division I) kicked things off this season in Longview, and faced the currently undefeated Longview Lobos. The Panthers lost a very close game that night. In fact, they had the lead at one point in the fourth quarter, and throughout most of the game.

Since then, Lufkin has won six-straight games, dominating its district competition.

For the first three weeks of the season, the Panthers had a few injuries to some of their best players. Fortunately for them now, they’ve played the last few weeks at full strength.

One of the players that’s returned is senior quarterback Kewone Thomas. He’s played the last four games, and has thrown for 560 yards and nine touchdowns.

“He came in and gave a little spark against Willis, his first drive back was about a 90-yard drive with a score,” Lufkin head coach Todd Quick said of Thomas. “He’s been our guy for the last two years and he’s continued to work and get better at what he’s doing.”

The defense been strong this season, only its opponents an average of just 15.6 points per game.

Quick said the offense has been a big help by controlling the clock and tempo of the game, keeping the Panthers defense fresh in the fourth quarter.

“For the last couple years we started playing a whole lot of kids defensive-line wise,” Quick said. “By the end of the year there’s not much gap between the first and the seconds, we’ve kinda done the same thing this year. We played a lot of kids on the front and we keep fresh people in there. We got a good scheme that matches the kids that are in there and those kids play hard.”

The Panthers don’t care much about being in the top 10 polls. They understand they’re at the top of the district, but Lufkin is more focused on its opponent each week.

“Our kids know where they’re at, and they understand it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t go out and do what you’re asked to do and do it at a fast pace,” Quick said.

Lufkin heads on the road this Friday against a good district opponent in Magnolia West (6-1 4-0), which should provide the Panthers with a strong test.

“They’re hot on offense and it’s gonna be a big challenge for us defensively and we’re on the road,” Quick said. “It’ll be a huge challenge for us and we’ll see where we’re at team wise. We’re excited about our kids.”

More From East Texas Sports Network