PREVIEW: Lufkin Gets Conroe Oak Ridge After Triumphant Win
Conroe Oak Ridge War Eagles (6-1, 3-1)
Lufkin Panthers (5-2, 2-1)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Abe Martin Stadium, Lufkin
- Oak Ridge: Dereck Rush
- Lufkin: Todd Quick
- Oak Ridge: def. The Woodlands College Park, 35-7
- Lufkin: def. Beaumont West Brook, 50-7
- Oak Ridge: vs. Beaumont West Brook, Nov. 3
- Lufkin: at Conroe, Nov. 3
- DL Joseph Ossai, Sr., 6-4, 226 (39 tackles, 18 for loss, 6 sacks, 4 QB pressures, 2 forced fumbles)
- OL Tyler Johnson, Jr., 6-5, 304
- WR Darrius Jelks, Jr., 5-8, 160 (20 catches, 307 yards, 2 TDs; 3 carries, 9 yards, 0 TDs)
- RB Nick McCants, Soph., 5-8, 180 (69 carries, 358 yards, 3 TDs)
- OL Austin Harris, Soph., 6-5, 295
- QB Reinard Britz, Sr., 6-3, 180 (32 of 58, 675 yards, 7 TDs, 2 INTs; 23 carries, 184 yards, 0 TDs)
- WR Tanner Lacy, Sr., 6-1, 160 (15 catches, 559 yards, 5 TDs)
- LB Brennan Young, Sr., 6-0, 218 (58 tackles, 4 for loss, 2 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries)
- WR Malik Jackson, Sr., 5-11, 170 (39 catches, 368 yards, 5 TDs; 9 carries, 117 yards, 2 TDs; committed to Houston)
- DL Carl Williams, Jr., 6-4, 306 (16 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 3 QB pressures, 2 forced fumbles)
- WR/DL Breylon Garcia, Jr., 6-4, 215 (16 catches, 303 yards, 3 TDs; 5 tackles, 2 QB pressures)
- RB Isaiah Phillips, Sr., 5-9, 185 (117 carries, 758 yards, 12 TDs; 2 catches, 15 yards, 0 TDs
- DB Jeremiah Davis, Sr., 6-0, 180 (36 tackles, 1 for loss, 5 PBUs, 2 forced fumbles)
- WR Ja'lynn Polk, Soph., 6-2, 175 (13 catches, 261 yards, 1 TD; 1 carry, 5 yards, 0 TDs)
- DB Savon Fields, Sr., 5-9, 168 (26 tackles, 2 for loss, 1 QB pressure, 4 PBUs)
- QB Kewone Thomas, Jr., 6-2, 190 (89 of 154, 1,138 yards, 12 TDs, 5 INTs; 76 carries, 226 yards, 6 TDs)
Just the facts
- This is the 12th all-time meeting between Lufkin and Conroe Oak Ridge. Lufkin leads the series, 11-0.
- Lufkin won last year's meeting, 31-21.
- Oak Ridge is averaging 28.6 points and 358.9 yards per game -- 184.9 rushing and 174 passing.
- War Eagles senior defensive lineman Joseph Ossai holds 27 Division I offers, a list that includes Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma, Stanford, TCU, Texas, and Texas A&M.
- Oak Ridge is allowing 15.4 points per game, and has forced 10 turnovers -- three interceptions and seven fumbles.
- Lufkin is averaging 34.9 points and 367.3 yards per game -- 195.4 rushing and 171.9 passing.
- Panthers senior Malik Jackson is averaging 44.6 yards on nine kickoff returns this season.
- Lufkin is allowing 22.7 points per game, and has forced 16 turnovers -- five interceptions and 11 fumbles.
Key matchup: Lufkin offensive line vs. Oak Ridge defensive line. It's been said countless times, but Friday's game between the Panthers and War Eagles should one decided in the trenches. Everything Lufkin does on offense is predicated upon its ability to block oncoming attackers, whether to provide running lanes for running back Isaiah Phillips or buy time for quarterback Kewone Thomas to find receivers downfield. The Lufkin O-line will face a big test this week against an Oak Ridge defensive line, which is led by one of the most highly-recruited pass-rushers in the nation.
Senior defensive end Joseph Ossai is a consensus four-star recruit with Division I offers from just about every major college football program. And his numbers so far in 2017 have matched the hype. Ossai enters Week 9 of the regular season with a team-high six sacks and an additional 12 tackles for loss. It will be vitally important for Lufkin's offensive line to minimize Ossai's impact on the game.
The Panthers certainly have the means on offense to run away and hide early. Thomas has come into his own as a first-year starting quarterback, and receiving trios don't come any better than Lufkin's three Division I targets -- senior Malik Jackson (Houston commit), junior Breylon Garcia, and sophomore Ja'Lynn Polk. Phillips has been the primary catalyst all season for Lufkin's offense, however, and it will be important for the Panthers to get him going in the running game.
Don't be surprised if: Lufkin continues its strong play on defense. The Panthers have held three of their last four opponents to seven points or less, and it's been the defense that's sparked Lufkin's 5-1 stretch since a Week 1 loss to Longview. For the season, the Panthers allow a modest 283.7 yards per game, including just 91.6 on the ground. Oak Ridge features a lot of players who touch the ball, but only one player that can truly be counted on as an explosive game-changer. However, the numbers don't lie. Senior receiver Tanner Lacy has been a dynamic playmaker all season, and he enters this week averaging a staggering 37 yards per catch. If the Panthers can slow down Lacy, they should be in good shape.