Two of the county’s high school football teams are set for matchups Friday, while Loudon High School has a bye heading toward the homestretch.
Lenoir City High School prepares for non-region opponent Hixson High School at home. Greenback School continues a series of region games on the road against Harriman High School.
The Panthers (1-6, 0-3 Region 3-5A) lost their third region game Friday, falling to Clinton High School at home 46-27. Lenoir City has two upcoming non-region games, followed by a final region match Oct. 29 at Powell High School. Kickoff against Hixson is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The Redskins (8-0, 4-0 Region 3-3A) remain undefeated in region play after beating McMinn Central High School 47-14 Friday at home.
The Cherokees (2-4, 2-1 Region 2-1A) were shut out 49-0 Friday at Coalfield, the top team in the region.
Panthers must score early, often
In the Friday night game, Clinton had a physical, fast, athletic team, Jeff Cortez, LCHS head football coach, said.
“Their offense was better than our defense,” Cortez said.
LCHS sophomore quarterback Brett Cortez passed for 304 yards, which Jeff said was “great throwing.”
“Their offense was pretty good, and we just didn’t have the stops,” Jeff said of Clinton.
Seniors Zane Ward, Dusty Clevenger and Jordy Carroll hauled in 92 yards, 68 yards and 53 yards, respectively. All three scored touchdowns.
This week’s game against Hixson has a special meaning.
“This is our last home football game,” Jeff said. “For football, this is really our big night.”
He said there are special activities for seniors before the Friday night game, including a victory lap at the high school Thursday followed by a senior banquet. There are 17 seniors on this year’s team, Cortez said.
Hixson is not traditionally a powerhouse but can be athletic, Jeff said.
“We’ve got to jump on them quick,” he said. “We need to score early and often.”
Special teams players will need to cover well, kicks must be placed properly and the offense will have to be consistent, Jeff said.
Cherokees need mental toughness
Ethan Edmiston, Greenback head football coach, said he thought the game at Coalfield started off well for the Cherokees.
“The first quarter I felt like the guys were competing and playing really hard,” Edmiston said.
However, “the second quarter was very disappointing,” he said.
“It was probably our worst quarter of the football season,” Edmiston said.
The Cherokees were plagued by penalties, turnovers and mental mistakes and “kind of quit fighting” after the second quarter.
Injuries were also a major factor. Starting quarterback Micah Franklin was hurt in the first half and backup quarterback Caden Lawson was injured in the third quarter. Lineman Eli Tyson, who starts on defense, was also knocked out of the game.
Greenback went from 18 varsity players who dressed out for the game down to 15, Edmiston said.