With high hopes of knocking off arch-rival Lufkin last week, the difficult pill to swallow for the Nacogdoches Dragons wasn’t as much falling to the Panthers, 44-0, but the way the Pack handled NHS.
Now the Dragon team that has started the season 0-2 has one more tuneup before the District 9-5A DII chase begins on Sept. 27. Nacogdoches travels to Tyler for a rare Saturday night game at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium for a matchup with Class 6A Robert E. Lee.
The kickoff of the game will be at 7 p.m. The contest will be broadcast on KTBQ Radio (107.7-FM).
In the loss to Lufkin, it wasn’t as much the yardage that the Panthers piled up — they finished with a 295-142 advantage over Nacogdoches — it was the methodical way Lufkin took care of the football, only losing one fumble, and taking advanage of excellent field position all night long.
“We’ve got to get better offensively,” said Nacogdoches first-year head coach Darren Allman this week. “We know what we’re doing works, we’ve just got to get all 11 people on the same page. We had some spurts offensively where we looked good and moved the ball down the field and finished with some scores in the first two games. But we’ve got to do a better job converting third downs.”
Nacogdoches converted just 2-of-11 (.182) of its third-down conversions against Kilgore in the 17-14 week one setback and were only 3-of-16 (.188) against Lufkin on Friday.
“We had a lot of third-and-short (yardage situations) last week and we didn’t convert and we didn’t convert on two fourth-and-shorts,” Allman added. “You’ve got to sustain drives. You’ve got to be great at converting on third down and we’re focusing on that.
“Field position was the other killer. The average starting field position for us was our own 17 (yard-line) and Lufkin started on average at our 47. We never flipped the field. We’ve got to do that.
“Offensive success a lot of times is about success and confidence.”
Tyler Lee (2-0) is quickly becoming a power in Class 6A under the direction of Kurt Traylor. The Red Raiders opened the season by knocking off then-No. 4-ranked (Class 5A DII) Marshall, 27-20, and then blowing past John Tyler, 34-7, last week.
Allman knew the first three games of the season were going to be tough for his team, and he said slowing the Red Raiders’ running game is the key to victory on Saturday.
“Tyler Lee is just as big of a challenge, for sure, (as Lufkin) and maybe even a bigger challenge physically,” the Dragon coach said. “They’ve really got great size and a very potent running game, with the ability to throw. They just haven’t had to throw very much. It’s a big challenge for us, but a huge opportunity for us to move past what happened Friday night (against Lufkin) and keep on growing up. That’s what we’ve got to do.”