When Lenoir City travels to Sequoyah Friday night, the Panthers will be facing a team they have had little trouble beating over the last several years.
In the three match ups between the two teams since 2009, the only times the teams have played in the past 10 years, Lenoir City is 3-0 with a combined scored of 98-7. However, this season Sequoyah is off to its best start, 3-0, in the 2000s and are coming off their first non-losing season since 2003 in 2011, when they posted a 6-6 record and a playoff win.
"This ain't the same Sequoyah team that we're used to seeing," Lenoir City head coach Mike Zeller said. "They've got a pretty good ball club."
The Chiefs season is one that looks very much like that of the Panthers early on. Both teams are coming off a season in which they make big strides in a positive direction as far as wins and losses go.
Lenoir City, going 0-10 in 2007, and Sequoyah, going 0-10 in 2009, know all too well what it's like to be a losing program and are both hoping to change the perception surrounding their programs and begin winning more consistently.
Zeller is in his fourth year at Lenoir City High School, while Sequoyah coach Bill Satterfield is in his fifth, and both are pushing their programs in the right direction.
Each team entered the season with higher expectations than in years past and both look to explosive offenses to do so. The Panthers have out scored opponents 69-20 in two games, while the Chiefs have scored 139 points while allowing just 42.
"They can throw it and run it," Zeller said. "They really stretch the field. They can run it inside, they can run it outside, they can throw the ball and they have a good screen game. We're going to have to play fundamentally sound defense."
While Sequoyah has played very well early in the season, they have yet to be tested by a team like Lenoir City, winning against teams with a combined 1-8 record, two of which are classified as 1A schools.
Lenoir City has played one less game, sitting at 2-0, and has yet to face a team with a win on the season. However, the Panthers do have a district win again a district opponent in Heritage.
The game should be the biggest test of the young season for each team and this point and will make a statement for the game's winner.
"They play with a lot of confidence," Zeller said. "They've got a lot of guys back and they've got some good skill guys and a quarterback who can throw the ball. They're doing a lot of good things."
While the defense of Lenoir City will be key in coming away with a win Friday night, the special teams weapon of Dakota Vincil will continue to be important. With already 11 touchbacks in just two games, Vincil has been an important weapon in keeping opponents from scoring so far in 2012.
"That's huge," Zeller said. "We haven't had a kicker who can kick it in the end zone like Dakota can. It's always hard, on any level, for an offense to drive 80 yards. That's been a big plus for us."
Lenoir City travels to Sequoyah 7:30 p.m. Friday night. A win would give the Panthers their first 3-0 start since 2004 when the team finished 7-5 after beginning the season 4-0.