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FOOTBALL: College Park heading in right direction as district play starts Friday

September 29, 2017 GMT

THE WOODLANDS - College Park coach Lonnie Madison has been pleased with the progress his team has made over the first three games of the season. The Cavaliers have a victory under their belts, and after a close loss last week, the team is entering District 12-6A play with a chance to jump back into the win column.

College Park (1-2) will tangle with Lufkin (3-1) at 7:30 p.m. today at Woodforest Bank Stadium in the league opener for both teams. The Cavaliers finished district play with a 1-5 record last season, while the Panthers qualified for the playoffs with a 4-2 mark.

Lufkin has reached the postseason in 19 consecutive seasons and defeated College Park 58-17 on its way to prolonging that streak last year.

“The team has got great confidence right now,” Madison said. “We’ve only played three games, and we feel like we’re headed in the right direction. … We’re seeing improvement in all phases of the game, and everything in non-district was practice and getting ready. Obviously we want to win all those games, but now we start with a clean slate, and we have a good Lufkin team to start off district with.”

College Park lost its season opener 49-14 against a still-undefeated Tomball team. But the Cavaliers bounced back the next week, showing their grit to earn a 20-19 win over Deer Park at home, clinching the result with a 37-yard field goal from Carson Mohr.

Trailing 19-3 against A&M Consolidated last week, College Park scored 10 unanswered points in the second half and had a chance to drive down for the winning score late in the game. And although the team wasn’t able to convert on that opportunity, the fight shown during the rally attempt was something that stood out to Madison.

“We played tough,” he said. “We were at 3-3 at half, and the ball didn’t bounce our way during the third quarter, but the kids kept battling. We were down 19-3 and managed to pull it back to 19-13 and got the ball back with about a minute and a half to go in the fourth quarter to have a chance to win the game. Unfortunately, we didn’t win the game, but the kids fought hard, and they gave us a chance, and that’s the important thing right now.”

College Park will face the challenge of trying to slow down a high-powered Lufkin offense tonight. During the Panthers’ three non-district wins, the team has scored 45, 44 and 47 points, respectively. Their only loss this season came during the opener against Longview, a game which they dropped 35-16.

While the Cavaliers’ offense has shown bursts of promise at times with running backs Daniel Vann and Travis Washburn leading the way, the defense has stepped up the past two games and rebounded nicely from its opening performance. Continuing that trend will be important against an athletic team like Lufkin.

“Obviously Lufkin’s got good players,” Madison said. “They’re a good football team, and they’re one of the traditional powers in the state of Texas. I’ve played them before when I was at Oak Ridge and Klein Collins. They’re going to spread the field, they’re going to put their players in space, and we’ve got to do a good job of playing assignment football and being where we’re supposed to be.”