PREVIEW: Lufkin Meets Magnolia West With District Lead on Line
DISTRICT 8-5A DIVISION I
Lufkin Panthers (6-1, 4-0)
Magnolia West Mustangs (6-1, 4-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday
Mustang Stadium, Magnolia
- Lufkin: Todd Quick
- Magnolia West: JD Berna
- Lufkin: def. Tomball, 35-24
- Magnolia West: def. Waller, 50-29
- Lufkin: vs. Conroe Caney Creek, Nov. 2
- Magnolia West: at Magnolia, Nov. 2
Players to watch
- S Jerrin Thompson, Jr., 6-2, 170 (52 tackles, 3 for loss, 1 INT, 7 PBUs, 1 forced fumble)
- NG Carl Williams, Sr., 6-4, 306 (9 tackles, 1 sack, 4 QB pressures; committed to Arkansas)
- DE Breylon Garcia, Sr., 6-4, 230 (38 tackles, 8 for loss, 5 sacks, 12 QB pressures; committed to Nevada)
- DE Javasia Brunson, Sr., 6-4, 235 (24 tackles, 1 for loss, 8 QB pressures, 2 INTs, 2 PBUs, 1 forced fumble, 1 defensive TD)
- WR Ja'Lynn Polk, Jr., 6-2, 175 (20 catches, 447 yards, 4 TDs)
- QB Kewone Thomas, Sr., 6-2, 190 (34 of 52, 560 yards, 9 TDs, 3 INTs; 49 carries, 289 yards, 7 TDs)
- LB Deandre Bagley, Sr., 5-11, 200 (70 tackles, 8 for loss, 5 sacks, 5 QB pressures, 1 INT, 2 PBUs, 1 forced fumble)
- WR Titan Williams, Sr., 5-9, 166 (27 catches, 389 yards, 6 TDs; 6 carries, 57 yards, 1 TD)
- QB John Matocha, Sr., 5-11, 175
- TE Simon Gonzalez, Sr., 6-3, 222 (committed to Texas Tech)
- DB Ryan Frank, Jr., 6-2, 175
- RB Hayden Burge, Sr., 5-8, 149
- WR Seth Hayes, Sr., 6-5, 195
- WR Trevon Lemelle, Sr.
- RB Marcus Robinson, Sr.
Just the facts
- The cumulative record of Lufkin's 2018 opponents is 26-16 (.619).
- Lufkin is averaging 43 points and 413.9 yards per game -- 232 rushing and 181.9 passing.
- The Panthers' defense is allowing opponents an average of just 2.1 yards per carry.
- Lufkin is allowing 15.6 points per game, has 17 sacks, and has forced 13 turnovers -- seven interceptions and six fumbles.
- The cumulative record of Magnolia West's 2018 opponents is 22-26 (.458).
- Magnolia West is averaging 53 points and 521.5 yards per game -- 210 rushing and 311.5 passing.
- The Mustangs' first season of football came in 2008.
- Magnolia West is allowing 29.1 points per game on the season.
Key matchup: Magnolia West passing attack vs. Lufkin secondary. Coming into Friday's battle for first place in District 8-5A Division I, Magnolia West is about as hot on offense as it gets. The Mustangs are averaging more than 50 points and 500 yards per game this season, and have put up 56.7 points per game in their four district wins. The key to the offense is senior quarterback John Matocha, who leads the district in passing by averaging more than 300 yards through the air per game. What makes the Mustangs especially difficult to defend is their depth at the receiver position. Five Magnolia West players have triple-figure receiving yardage totals and four have at least two touchdown catches. Payton Finch, Seth Hayes and Trevon Lemelle lead the way, but tight end and Texas Tech commit Simon Gonzalez is a serious threat in the red zone.
The strength of Lufkin both last season and this season is on defense. The Panthers have three Division I recruits -- Carl Williams, Breylon Garcia, Javasia Brunson -- on the defensive line, which has helped the Panthers hold opposing teams to a little more than two yards per rushing attempt this year. Linebacker Deandre Bagley is a disruptive force as a pass rusher, and can make tackles in the open field from sideline to sideline, and safety Jerrin Thompson is about as good as it gets in run support. Where Lufkin will be challenged most, however, will be with its pass coverage. Thompson may need to play off the line of scrimmage more than usual to keep Magnolia's West receivers in front of him. The Panthers will also need a big game from their top cornerback Damond McKelvey.
Don't be surprised if: Magnolia West tries to keep Lufkin's defense honest by committing to the running game early. As noted earlier, the Panthers are extremely difficult to run the ball against, so even if the yards and chunk plays on the ground are hard to come by at the outset, the Mustangs would be wise to stick with it. Lufkin's defense is good enough as it is, and the Panthers become even more fearsome on the defensive side of the ball if the opponent becomes one-dimensional.