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After a gut-wrenching double overtime loss to Texas, the season for the Lufkin Panthers is over.
Lufkin finished the year at 9-2 overall after going 7-0 in District 8-5A-DI to win the program's second-straight district title. With another playoff berth, Lufkin has been in the playoffs for the 22nd-straight season.
With the year over, it's time to look back on the year that was for Lufkin.
In the regular season, Lufkin went an impressive 9-1, outscoring opponents 436-126. In district play, the Panthers outscored foes 304-95, providing one of the best defensive performances in the district. Overall for the year, Lufkin's defense gave up 167 points, which was the fewest by a Panthers' team since only allowing 159 in 2007.
At the end of the regular season, Lufkin junior quarterback Jordan Moore finished as the district's passing champ. Moore was 167 of 240 for 2,552 yards, 22 touchdowns and only one interception in 10 games. Moore completed 69 percent of his passes and will be a top quarterback in the area to watch heading into 2020.
Lufkin will have to replace Moore's top target in Texas Tech-commit Ja'Lynn Polk. For the regular season, Polk finished second in the district in receptions with 54 but led it in yards with 1,050. Polk averaged 19.44 yards per catch, which was second best amongst receivers with at least 40 receptions. The senior finished with nine touchdowns.
Defensively, Lufkin senior Tre Odom finished the regular season tied for the district lead in interceptions with four. Lufkin sophomore Julian Diaz finished with two and will be one to watch in 2020.
Another big returner for the Panthers in 2020 will be their kicker Kaleb Encarnacion, who made 47 extra points and nailed eight field goals this season. One game earlier this season, Encarnacion was the VYPE Player of the Week for his performance in a Panthers' win.
What a season it was for Lufkin with some players coming back in 2020 that should make them a contender for the district title again.
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The talent that Lufkin, Texas has put out of over the decades is undisputable.
Dez Bryant and Keke Coutee are household names having played with the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans, respectively. But names like Ken Houston (NFL Hall of Fame), Reggie McNeal, Jorvoskie Lane, Terrence Kiel, Rex Hadnot and Carrington Byndom all hail from the Deep East Texas town.
So, who could be the future?
At 6-foot-2 and over 210 pounds, junior RB Caleb Berry could be the next Big Man on Campus to wear the purple and gold. He has rushed for over 600 yards and has 11 scores entering the postseason, and coach Todd Quick is going to need him to tote the rock in clutch situations during the playoffs.
Berry pulled his first offer last week from the University of Arkansas. While there may be some uncertainty with Razorback coach Chad Morris being fired, there is no uncertainty that Berry will be a high-major DI back.
The state's No. 5 Class 5A DI team faces Texas High School in the first round of the playoffs. With winning their district, they host the Texarkana school on Friday at Abe Martin Stadium.