Tyler Lee faces a pivotal test Friday at Longview as the Red Raiders aim to rebound from their first loss of the season and first District 11-6A loss.
Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. at Lobo Stadium.
Lee (3-1, 0-1) was stopped 24-14 at home last Friday by Rockwall-Heath in a game that saw the Red Raiders outgain the Hawks by over 100 yards despite being 10 negative yardage plays, many of them coming on fumbles that Robert E. Lee ultimately recovered.
Head coach Kurt Traylor said that was the focus in practice: protecting the ball more and limiting negative plays.
"Our Monday practice was probably one of our best offensive practices that we've had this year," Traylor said. "And that says a lot. The kids showed up ready to work."
Lee fell behind Heath 10-0 in the second quarter and despite a last-second touchdown pass in the first half by Chance Amie to Marquis Gray that made it 10-7 at halftime, the Red Raiders weren't able to complete the comeback.
With Longview (3-1, 0-1), which also lost its district opener 52-34 on the road at Mesquite Horn, looming on the schedule the attention quickly turned to the Lobos.
"We haven't really talked much about the (Heath loss). I explained to our players that this whole district is rock solid and you got beat by a good team," Traylor said. "It's clearly one game at a time and we have to show up and play."
The Red Raiders enter with 994 yards rushing and 876 passing, led by junior Ladarius Wickware, who totaled 551 yards and four touchdowns. Amie has rushed for 214 yards while also completing 66 of 81 for 876 and eight touchdowns.
Longview's staple is downhill power rushing to control the game and the time of possession, but Mesquite Horn did not allow the Lobos to do that last week, scoring 38 unanswered points to force Longview to have to put the ball in the air more.
Sophomore quarterback Haynes King finished 13 of 29 for 252 yards and three second-half touchdowns. The Lobos finished with a season-worst 94 yards rushing.
Traylor said his guess for Friday is Longview will get back to being a run-first offense behind its big offensive line.
"His son is just a sophomore and he can throw it all over the field and he can run it too, but I know coach (John) King likes to get under center and put that tailback deep back there and hand it to him and say, ‘Here you go boys,'" Traylor continued. "That's just his mentality. He's an O-line coach, like me, and deep down inside you want to run the ball."
The Lobos enter with 851 yards on the ground and 12 touchdowns, led by Keilyn Williams and Jessie Anderson who have rushed for 243 and 205, respectively. King and Jordan Lawson have combined to throw for 784 yards and seven scores.
The Red Raiders are fighting the wrong side of history against Longview. Lee hasn't defeated the Lobos in 14 years, but Traylor added all streaks eventually come to an end.
"We just have to show up and match their physicality. I think we match up well with them," Traylor said. "I feel good about my team. We have some things on special teams that need to be cleaned up and ball security we've talked about.
"Our coaches have a great plan and if we execute the plan and do what they're taught to do, it's going to be an interesting game."