NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Both the Lufkin Panthers and Nacogdoches Dragons have only one way to the playoffs next week: win and your in.
The two biggest schools in the Deep East Texas region will need to win their final regular season games to get into the playoffs.
The Panthers will play Waller at Abe Martin Friday night. Lufkin, New Caney and Magnolia West all are tied with a 4-3 district record. The only way for Lufkin to get in the playoffs is win. If the Panthers win and Magnolia West loses to College Station they would be the third seed. If the Panthers and Mustangs both win then Lufkin would be the fourth seed.
“When we met with the kids after the game Friday we talked about this game being a playoff game for us,” Lufkin head coach Todd Quick said. “It is our first playoff game. We have to win it. That is how we are approaching it. The kids are going to work.”
The Panthers have been up and down all year but the schedule has been more favorable to the end of the season. With a game last week against Caney Creek, the district’s weakest team, preceded by two weeks of byes have the Pack healthy for a possible playoff run.
“We are finally healthy and we got back everyone that can come back,” Quick said. “We have some young kids that have grown up and are playing a little better.”
For Nacogdoches is it simple. The Dragons and Marshall Mavericks will be playing for the final playoff spot in their district with the first three spots going to Texas High, Pine Tree and Whitehouse.
““We knew going in there was not a lot of disparity between the top teams,” Nacogdoches head coach Darren Allmen said. “We knew it would come down to the last week. We were hoping that it wouldn’t be us in that week but we are in that situation. We control our destiny.”
The Dragons put up a fight and led the state ranked Texas High Tigers 21-14 in the final 8 minutes but ultimately came up short and loss 21-17. Allmen hopes to build off what went right against their toughest district opponent.
“We have been telling them that when they are on and playing like they are capable of you can play with anyone,” Allmen said. “I think that showed the other night.”