Longview Looks To Reload, Make Deeper Playoff Run After Early Exit In 2016

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Photo via Twitter/Longview Football

 
After moving up from 5A to 6A because of realignment, the Longview Lobos picked right up from where they left off by finishing 8-2 in the regular season and winning a share District 11-6A title. But 2016 ended earlier than usual for the Lobos as they were bounced out of the bi-district round by Beaumont West Brook in a 33-32 heartbreaker. It was a disappointing end for a team that has made 16 straight playoff appearances.

As the calendar has turned into the 2017 offseason, head coach John King’s task is to figure out how to replace 30 seniors from his 2016 team and reload a potent rushing attack. With games against East Texas rivals Lufkin and Marshall, we’ll get an opportunity to see just how good the Lobos will be.

Key Losses
QB Gaylon Wiley, RB Kendrevian White, RB D’Crayvan Polk, OL Kendall Starling, S Traveion Webster

The Lobos gave teams all kinds of fits in 2016 with the number of different weapons on offense that they threw at teams, especially running the football. First team All-District selection Kendravian White (18 touchdowns) and second team All-District D’Crayvan Polk were two critical pieces of the rushing attack. Together with fullback Trajan Bush and even Gaylon Wiley, the Lobos could attack on the ground in a variety of ways.

On that note, Wiley started coming on later in the season as a passer. He had three games this season with over 200 yards passing and while that’s not eye-popping, it provided a solid complement for the Lobos on offense. You can’t have a good offense without a good offensive line and Kendall Sterling (first team All-District) led the way for a strong unit in 2016.

On defense, safety Traveion Webster was named Defensive MVP and was yet another first team all-district selection. His presence, leadership and playmaking ability in the secondary will be something that John King will have to replace next year.

Key Returners
QB A’Darius Carter, RB Jaquan Edwards, TE Jaylin Brown, DL Ke’Andre Mauldin, S Jephaniah Lister

There’s only five names listed on this list, but you can make a good case for at least three other players. As many key players that the Lobos lose, they’ll have plenty more to step up in 2017.

At quarterback, A’Darius Carter is projected as the next starter to replace Gaylon Wiley. He did see some playing time last year on varsity and heading into his senior season, he has a similar skill set to Wiley and will now have his opportunity to take the reins of a physical offensive attack.
At one point last season, the Lobos had 11 different ball carriers in one game. Three of those runners are gone as mentioned in the key losses, but Jaquan Edwards appears to be one of the many backs next in line. At just 5-6, he presents a different style of running than White or Polk, but he along with fullback Jessie Anderson look to provide that same punch in the backfield for the Lobos.

When the Lobos do pass, Carter (or whoever starts at quarterback) will have a big reliable target in Jaylin Brown to go to. The 6-3 first team All-District selection can create mismatch problems and may be asked to take on a bigger role as a receiver and a blocker in the running game.

On defense, the Lobos have a number of key playmakers coming back with the core of their strength up front and in the back end. Up front, it starts with Ke’Andre Mauldin. Mauldin will lead the way for a physical defensive unit along with Jadarrion Blakemore and D’Marjai Dearion. Both players were named as honorable mention on the All-District team this past season.

In the secondary, the Lobos have a player to replace Webster in rising junior safety Jephaniah Lister. Lister was named on second team All-District as well as an honorable mention on the AP All-State team. He, along with Roshodrick Harmon at corner, will have greater expectations put upon them by their coaches next season.

Verdict

This is a Lobo team that is absolutely stocked with talent. Even with all that they lose, it seems like that the Lobos find a way to plug and place guys every year. Early indications show that 2017 doesn’t appear to be any different.

Expect the Lobos and Tyler John Tyler to battle for the top of the district title, and it would not be a surprise to see Longview make another playoff run next season.

 

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