LONGVIEW, Texas — December 22, 2018, will be a date forever etched in the history of Longview.
When the 2018 Longview Lobos took the field that Saturday in Arlington, they were the latest in a tradition of Longview teams that have dominated East Texas football. In fact, Longviews ranks in the top 10 nationally of winningest teams in high school football history.
Yet, there was another tradition that plagued generations of Lobos. In 1937, Franklin Roosevelt was in the White House, grainy black-and-white video of the airship Hindenburg bursting into flames shocked the world, Colin Powell, Morgan Freeman and Jim Marshall were born, and the Longview Lobos won their last state title.
Eighty-one years and several generations later, the Lobos looked as strong as ever, anchored by junior quarterback Haynes King and junior defensive lineman Sawyer Goram-Welch.
The Lobos opened their season against Lufkin. The Panthers led the game until the fourth quarter. With less than three minutes go, and the score knotted at 28, King connected on a 44-yard pass to give Longview a 35-28 victory to open the season.
After that game, Longview would go on to dominate the rest of their season, outscoring their opponents 478-144. Only one other regular season game against Rockwall in late-September would be decided by less than 10 points.
The Lobos headed into the playoffs 10-0 as district champions. For the first three rounds, Longview continued their dominance by clobbering Copperas Cove 70-22, leveling Prosper 63-17 and topping Vadergrift 56-28.
Next, the Lobos took the field against Westfield, who held the Lobos to a season-low 14 points. However, Longview’s defense played their best game of the season, forcing a shutout. The win would advance the Lobos to the state semi-finals.
Against Tascosa, Longview jumped to a 35-14 halftime lead. In the second half, the Rebels pecked away at the lead while the Lobos went stagnate. Midway through the final quarter, Tascosa was down 38-28 after scoring a touchdown. Barely a minute later, the Lobos seemingly put the game away with a 14-yard rush by Keilyn Williams to bring the score to 45-28.
However, the Rebels would not go away, scoring two touchdowns in the last two minutes of the game. But, Longview recovered a late onside kick to seal the 45-42 victory and a spot in the state championship against Beaumont West Brook for the first time since 2009.
The state championship game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington seemed to be an out-of-control roller coaster ride as each team battled for momentum on each play.
Longview jumped to an early two-score lead, but West Brook responded with three unanswered touchdowns to gain a 28-13 edge.
Longview would add a touchdown later in the half to bring the score to 21-20.
With just over two minutes in the half, the Bruins drove the ball quick and efficiently down the field to add yet another first-half score, capping off an explosive half for both teams.
In the third quarter, the Lobos cut the lead to two after King sprang free on a run. However, the Lobos would miss their second two-point conversion of the afternoon, bringing the score to 28-26.
West Brook opened the final quarter with a touchdown, but a bad snap prevented the contest from becoming a two-score game. Longview would add a field goal on the ensuing drive to cut the lead to five.
Longview would get the ball back and score a touchdown to take their first lead since the before the intermission. However, Longview failed on a third two-point conversion and clung to a narrow one-point lead.
A crucial late fumble recovery by Michael Martin would help to seal the 35-34 victory. When the final buzzer sounded, the Lobos could rightly fully claim their first state championship in 81 years.
Statistically, Longview was off-the-charts.
Offensively, the Lobos recorded 8,034 yards and scored 796 points. In all, the Lobos put up 107 offensive touchdowns, 42 through the air and 65 on the ground.
King accounted for 3,665 passing yards to go along with 568 rushing yards. He was responsible for 50 combined touchdowns. King had a 70 percent completion percentage throughout the season while only throwing four interceptions.
King’s favorite receiver was senior Kamden Perry, who reeled in 87 passes for a remarkable 1,896 yards. Perry also caught 18 touchdown passes.
Senior running back Keilyn Williams led the team in all-purpose yards. Williams ran for nearly 1,500 yards on just over 200 carries, scoring 13 touchdowns. As a receiver, Williams put up 480 yards on 21 receptions for six touchdowns. He also had 253 yards as a kick returner.
Not to be outdone, backup running back Jesse Anderson averaged 7.1 yards per carry and finished the season with 1,082 yards on the ground. He was second on the team in total touchdowns with 28, including two TD receptions.
Defensively, Jephaniah Lister led the team with 135 total tackles, 102 of those being solo. Lister was also one of the two defensive players to score a touchdown. The other was Jared Reese. Both were on fumble recoveries.
On the defensive line, Goram-Welch finished the season with five sacks, 15 tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles.
Robert Pierce also stood out for the defense. He accounted for 57 tackles, two sacks, six tackles for loss, one fumble caused, one fumble recovery and a team-high four interceptions.
As a team, the Mean Green allowed 21 points per game and 329 yards per game. They also had 30 takeaways.
Those statistics, as remarkable as they were, will be left to the record books in the future. However, the memories of this season will reverberate for generations of classes that come through Longview High School and the proud community they represent.