|LONGVIEW - The last time Longview went 3-0 to open the football season was in 1998. One season after the Lobos put together a 14-1 campaign, advancing to the Class 5A Division 1 State Championship game.
Longview will enter its bye week with a 3-0 record after wins over former district rival Marshall (42-14), nationally-ranked and defending Louisiana 5A Champion Evangel Christian Academy (31-28), and unbeaten Lake Highlands (28-9). The Lobos return to action on Sept. 27th in their first road game of the season at Ruston (La.).
"I really believe that our players right now need a little break," said Longview coach Pat Collins. "They're going to get it, but its not going to be a total break. It will be a little bit of one.
"We'll just focus on Ruston. I believe that you've got to play them one game at a time. I certainly don't want to be preparing for John Tyler or Tyler Lee, and go to Ruston, because the most important game on our schedule is Ruston, right now. That's the next game and that's the attitude our players are taking."
The Ruston Bearcats are 1-1, losing their first game Friday to Monroe Neville 30-27. They had opened the season with a 35-14 win over Shreveport Byrd. This Friday, the Bearcats entertain nationally-ranked West Monroe.
Longview and Ruston have met nine time in the last 10 years of the interstate rivalry with the Bearcats leading the series at 5-4. After Ruston had won back-to-back games in 1999 and 2000, Longview broke through last year with a 35-7 victory at Lobo Stadium.
The Lobos open District 11-5A play on Oct. 4 when Longview hosts John Tyler. In an unusual twist, the four district teams will play each other twice.
Against Lake Highlands, the Lobos got big performances on both sides of the ball.
Sophomore tailback Jerrel Williams had his second 100-yard game of the season, carrying the ball 17 times for 128 yards and a touchdown. He scored Longview's final TD of the game on a 14-yard run with 2:36 to play. However, he nearly had a score early in the second half as he raced 42 yards before being dragged down at the Wildcats's 13.
Two plays later, quarterback Joel Armstrong ran in on a 10-yard keeper as Longview extended its lead to 14-3.
Williams now has over 300 yards with better than a 9-yard per carry average.
Defensively, corner back LaRandall McKind intercepted three passes, giving him four for the season. His 26-yard return of a pick late in the game resulted in Williams' touchdown. McKind also had eight tackles, caused a fumble and broke up a pass. He also turned a bad snap on a punt into a 35-yard kick, which the Wildcats fumbled away as Keith Johnson fell on it for the Lobos.
The turnover resulted in Longview's first touchdown as it rallied from a 3-0 deficit.
Senior linebacker Stephens added 12 tackles to lead the defense, with eight solos and four assists. Marcus Maxey, a junior cornerback, recorded his second interception of the season. Longview now has seven interceptions as a team, with Keaton Daniels returning one 60 yards for a touchdown in the season opener against Marshall.
The week off will be crucial for Armstrong, who had a knee scoped on Saturday. He'd had a piece of cartilage knocked loose the previous week against Evangel, Collins said.
"I just admire him and his parents, the doctors and everybody else that has been involved in this thing all week," said Collins, Armstrong ran for two touchdowns and threw one while amassing 76 all-purpose yards. "It had been a pretty well kept secret, and we didn't really want to talk about before the ballgame.
"I thought we did a lot of good things around him, only a 6'7 tight end could make a big play that Tate Casey made, and of course Joel made it happen by getting away from the rush. Jerrel made some nice runs, and we mixed some things up. We also got to look at a few other guys who needed some playing time."
Collins was referring to a 10-yard rollout completion from Armstrong to Casey that converted a third-and-5 into a first down as the Lobos moved into the red zone. Three plays later, Armstrong and Kelly connected for Longview's first touchdown of the game.