Robert E. Lee produced a brilliant drive last weekend to grab a 7-3 lead in an eventual 45-19 loss to eighth-ranked Longview.
Trailing 3-0 in the first quarter at home on “Senior Night”, Lee went 72 yards in 16 plays. Only twice time did Lee lose yardage on the drive, both 1-yard losses, methodically moving downfield. It was highlighted by a 19-yard run from senior Aneas Sutton and capped by a three-year touchdown pass from senior quarterback Joseph Seeber to senior tight end Luke Swanson.
It was Swanson’s first touchdown of the season and Seeber’s first scoring pass in four games.
“They came out and drove the ball down our throat,” said Longview coach John King of the Red Raiders early success. “We were able to get a stop and a couple quick scores, and things just kind of fell our way.”
That is putting it mildly.
The Lobos (8-1, 4-0) responded with 42 unanswered points while forcing Lee into three-and-outs for five of its next six drives.
“That’s what was so disappointing because we have that drive and the touchdown and then come back with four three-and-outs on the offensive end. Defensively, we can’t hold up to four three-and-outs in a row,” Huffstickler said.
Following that first-quarter touchdown, Lee (1-8, 0-4) did not record another first down until the three minute mark of the third quarter on a 12-yard pass completion from Seeber to Jordan Henderson.
The Red Raiders found some success late in the game with Sutton eventually finishing with a season-high 140 yards and a touchdown.
What Is Next For The Red Raiders?
Lee will not be in the playoffs this year. It is the first time REL has missed the postseason since 2005.
The question now: What does the future hold?
Fans will see a glimpse this Friday at North Mesquite. The Stallions (4-5, 0-4) have endured their own district struggles and are also eliminated from playoff contention.
This is a game for seniors to end on a good note and underclassmen to show coaches what they got.
“That’s what we talked about (after the game) is that everyone is still in the boat and no one has jumped out,” Huffstickler said.
It may also be an opportunity for Huffstickler and his staff to take a look at sophomores Paxton Potter, Raleigh Poster and Kyle Gee. All three are listed as quarterbacks on the roster and none have attempted a single pass this season.
If Seeber pilots the offense to a comfortable lead, it will give an opportunity for one or all of them to get under center.
It will be the final game for Swanson, Sutton and tailback Dalaven Baker, along with senior linemen Conner Grooms, V.J. Herbert and Idong Okon. On defense, linebackers Austin Campbell, Chris Cook and Cole Paxson will don the Red Raider uniform one last time along with senior cornerback LaDarrell Smith and others.
Can Lee finish of the season with a win despite this game being meaningless to the district race?
History says yes.
In 2005 the Red Raiders officially eliminated themselves from playoff contention a week earlier and faced Mesquite Horn at home in a game the Jaguars had to win if they were to make the playoffs.
Then senior quarterback Preston Hill threw for a season-high 296 yards and three touchdowns with the Red Raiders rallying from a 31-21 deficit to erupt with 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and a 42-31 win.
A similar result would give Lee a positive to end the season on and some much-needed momentum heading into the offseason.