LONGVIEW — Robert E. Lee entered the 2013 season prepared to do its best to stop four separate losing streaks.
The first was a 10-year drought to Lufkin. Done.
The second was a two-year drought in district play. Done
Check back on Friday.
The Longview Lobos, like the Panthers before this season, enjoy a 10-year winning run over the Red Raiders.
If Lee can snap its third losing streak, it puts the Red Raiders in position to end the fourth one as well — their first playoff trip since 2010.
Lee and Longview will kick off at 7 tonight in a Halloween showcase game that will be broadcast live on local television.
The Red Raiders (4-4, 1-3 in District 12-5A) are coming off a 61-54 win over Mesquite last week while Longview (7-1, 4-0) took care of North Mesquite, 37-22.
Lee is averaging 34.5 points per game in district play this season and Piske feels his team has an opportunity to pull off an upset.
"We need to focus on going over there and playing the best game we can and the outcome will take care of itself," said Piske, in his second year as head coach of the Red Raiders. "They are good in all three phases of the game and people are talking about them with a chance to win state.
"We just have to be prepared mentally and physically to go over there and match their physicality. Just line up and play good football for four quarters and see where we end up."
Lee sophomore quarterback Zach Hall got back to his dual-threat ways in the win over Mesquite, rushing for 97 yards and a touchdown and passing for 86 yards and two scores. Tailbacks Kyjuan Johnson and Tavon Wesley also combined for 268 yards rushing and four touchdowns against the Skeeters.
REL will try to duplicate that rushing success against a Lobos defense that is surrendering a district-best 105 yards to opponents per game.
Led by senior defensive lineman Zaycoven Henderson, a TCU commit who still has numerous big-time offers, the Lobos have punished opposing offenses by forcing eight fumbles. Senior defensive back Travin Howard leads the district with four interceptions with Longview picking off nine passes overall.
"Their front six are great on the run and they basically stay in a six-man box and they know they are good enough to stop your run, so that leaves them five on the pass," Piske said. "It will be a big challenge and we are going to have to stay patient and do what we do and realize four yards is a great play against them."
On defense, Lee will have to contend with junior quarterback Dezmond Chumley, who has passed for 1,402 yards and 20 touchdowns with just four interceptions. University of Texas commit Dorian Leonard is his top target with 26 catches for 502 yards and eight touchdowns.
On the ground, Jamycal Hasty was held out last week for injury and is questionable for tonight. The junior has 112 carries for 862 yards and 10 touchdowns.
"We are going to talk to the officials before the game and see if they will let us put 22 out there on defense," Piske said about how REL can stop the Lobos. "If we have 22 guys we might stop them. But in all seriousness, they are really good on offense. They run the football well and, really, that is why they are good year after year is they are so physical on both sides of the ball."
Lee's defense has given up 2,069 yards passing this season and 24 passing touchdowns. In the win over Mesquite, REL allowed 295 yards rushing, well over the Red Raiders' average (156.5 per game).
REL was able to win a shootout thanks to several quick-strike scoring plays, and it's that ability that has caught the attention of Longview coach John King.
"They are wide open spread attack and they have great athletes that they are doing it with," King said. "That is one thing that never changes (at Lee), they've got great athletes. A huge, physical offensive line and really a typical Tyler Lee football team with just different kids wearing different numbers."
Piske hopes the final result is not typical of the past in which REL has come out on the short end in every meeting since 2003.
The Red Raiders were able to break through against Lufkin and Piske said that belief is carrying his team this week.
"It's a David and Goliath kind of deal going in, but those battles have been won before, so we'll just have to play good and see what happens," Piske said.
ROBERT E. LEE VS. LONGVIEW
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Lobo Stadium, Longview
Radio: ESPN 92.1 FM, Tyler (KTBB 600-AM, if there is a World Series Game 7)
Records: Longview 7-1 (4-0 in District 12-5A); Robert E. Lee 4-4 (1-3 in District 12-5A)
Last Week's Result: Longview 37, North Mesquite 22; Robert E. Lee 61, Mesquite 54
2012 Result: Longview won 52-6
All-Time Series: Lobos lead 39-14-2
Players to Watch: Longview — QB Dezmond Chumley (6-0, 190, Jr.), RB Jamycal Hasty (5-9, 185, Jr.), FS Stephan Maxey (6-0, 180, Sr.), DL Zaycoven Henderson (6-2, 285, Sr.). Robert E. Lee — QB Zach Hall (5-10, 155, Soph.), OL Matthew Weeks (6-5, 270, Jr.), DL Triston Taylor (6-1, 255, Sr.), DB Greg Lavely (5-8, 153, Sr.).
Quick Slant: The Lobos have not lost a home game since 2011 and haven't been beaten in district play at home since 2003. Lufkin and coincidentally, the Red Raiders are the teams that did it. It's the last time REL has beaten its longtime East Texas rival. A win for the Red Raiders would keep their playoff hopes alive, while Longview can clinch the outright District 12-5A title with a win. There is no way to sugarcoat the dominance Longview has had against Lee. The Red Raiders have not played to within 10 points of the Lobos in any game since 2007 (lost 21-12). But the Red Raiders snapped a 10-year losing streak to Lufkin earlier this season and can do the same today with a win at Longview.
Quotable: "I know Tyler Lee's playoff hopes are hinging on (this game) and coach Piske and his staff have done a great job with those kids. They've gotten better each week, so our job is going to be a little more difficult than probably people think when looking at the records." — Longview coach John King
Next Up: Rockwall-Heath at Lee, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8 at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
Stadium Address: Lobo Stadium, Airline Road at Hawkins Parkway, Longview.