The most anticipated regular season game of 2018 in East Texas is less than one week from now. And it also has the attention of the entire state.

Fox Sports Southwest will broadcast the season opener between Lufkin and Longview on Friday night as part of its Texas Football Days series. The Week 1 clash kicks off at 8:30 p.m. from Longview's Lobo Stadium.

It ranks No. 1 on the's list of the top 25 games of 2018.

The longtime East Texas rivals have met seven times since 2014, three of which came in the playoffs, including last year's epic Class 6A Division II quarterfinal in front of a standing-room only crowd of more than 20,000 at Stephen F. Austin's Homer Bryce Stadium in Nacogdoches.

Lufkin DT Carl Williams. (© Clint Buckley,

Haynes King's 28-yard touchdown pass to Kamden Perry with 54 seconds remaining and the ensuing extra point gave Longview the thrilling 33-32 win, which advanced the Lobos to the state semifinals for the first time since 2010.

And now, for the fifth season in a row, Lufkin and Longview will open the year against one another.

Both teams will be state-title contenders in 2018.

Longview QB Haynes King. (© Clint Buckley,

Lufkin, which returns 12 starters that includes five Division I recruits, dropped down to Class 5A and has legitimate aspirations of its first championship since 2001.

Quarterback Kewone Thomas and receiver Ja'Lynn Polk highlight the offense, while the defensive line trio of Breylon Garcia, Javasia Brunson, and Carl Williams could be the best in the state of Texas.

Longview has 11 starters back, including eight on offense. King and Perry return, as do running backs Jessie Anderson and Keilyn Williams. TCU commit Marcus Williams will anchor a strong offensive line.

The Lobos lead the series, but not by much, 40-37-4. Longview has won three straight games over Lufkin.'s Top 25 Games of 2018