Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Records: Heritage (2-0), Lenoir City (0-1)
Previous meeting: The Mountaineers blew out the Panthers, 31-3, last season in Lenoir City. The story of the game was defense. While the offense struggled for a half, Heritage trailing, 3-0, at the break, end Evan Brown and the defense kept the Panthers in check. Brown, with one of his three sacks for a safety, and defensive back Andy Eldridge, on an interception return, even added points. Turned out to be a big day for the Mountaineers all around with head coach Brint Russell and wife, Regan, welcoming son, Braxton, into the world earlier that afternoon.
Last week: Chase Cline took advantage of a South-Doyle defense intent on stopping the Mountaineer spread offense through the air and gashed the Cherokees for a career-high 200 yards rushing and a pair of scores in a 30-16 Heritage win. Dylan Burchfield’s leaping touchdown catch on a 33-yard pass from Tyler Hartley was one of the top plays of the week. The Panthers lost a heartbreaker, 10-7, to rival Loudon in last week’s Battle of the Bridge. Lenoir City struck for a 7-2 lead in the third quarter when sophomore quarterback Jordan Hall connected with Cole Lombardo for a 30-yard score. The Redskins quickly answered on a 43-yard touchdown run by quarterback Wade Plemons. Lenoir City yielded two points on a botched snap into the end zone on a first quarter punt.
Keep an eye on: The Panthers are intent on putting the program on the road back to prominence this season. Lenoir City pushing the Redskins to the closing minutes set off alarm bells in the Mountaineer camp this week. Lenoir City running back Tanner Wilson is a long-distance threat not to be taken lightly.
He’s been making a play here, a play there; sooner or later, Mountaineer sophomore Je’Rell Bledsoe is going to have a huge game. From one of the receiver spots, his ability to close quickly on defensive backs and then leave them is noticeable. Brown dominated the line of scrimmage a year ago in this one. The Panther offense must’ve just loved film study this week. Who’ll pick up the slack for Heritage if Lenoir City’s line picks up Brown? A game like this was made for players like seniors Jon-Luc Click and Mar Gordon.