The loss to the Longview Lobos in the regional Semi-finals last season still haunts the Lufkin Panthers. The team is not shying away from talking about it.
"I think about it every day," safety Bugg Thompson said. "It hurts to loose by one point when you are in round 4. You work so hard for it. I felt like we had a state championship caliber team."
Head Coach Todd Quick knows the student-athletes pain and frustration. Quick is in the same boat.
"It's not going to leave," Quick said. "It never does. It goes year-to-year. We are that close to get to the fifth round and our goal is to win it all."
The players may talk about the one point loss to their long time rival but the time for complaining and feeling sorry for them selves has gone out the door.
"It hurts to loose a game like that," quarterback Kewone Thomas said. "It has just really mad us work really harder through the off season to come back."
Thomas and Thompson are just two of the players that have risen up as new leaders with the departure of Isaiah Phillips, Malik Jackson and Jackson Treadwell.
"We are as strong now as we have been in a long time," Quick said,. "I mean a long time. We are bigger and stronger. We have guys more prepared this year at this time. They have taken what the leaders did last year and apply it to there team. They are the ones left with that bad taste in their mouth. This is there team now."
The Pack is working this spring on a new identity. Gone is the grind of a 6A schedule that included a tough district out of the Conroe area and in is a new batch of teams in 5A this team is unfamiliar with. One of those being the defending state champion College Station Cougars.
"They are like us," Quick said. " They have to figure out who they are and we have to figure out who we are."
The season may bring seven new opponents but three will remain the same; Longview, Nacogdoches and Monterrey Tech from Mexico. If Lufkin wants revenge on the Lobos they will not have to wait long. The open the season in Longview on Aug.31.
Copyright 2018 KTRE. All rights reserved.