Loudon's season got off to a rough start with a 40-7 loss to
Lenoir City head coach Mike Zeller said that score doesn't matter and he's
confident Loudon will give the Panthers plenty to worry about Friday night.
going to play us tough," Zeller said. "I expect them to come out and be a different team. We expect
that, these kids know that."
In some ways, the loss can help Loudon improve. Now the Redskins
know where their weaknesses lie.
"William Blount was able to expose some ares we weren't very
good in and it just helps us get better," Loudon coach Jeff Harig said.
With a game under
their belts, the Redskins have an advantage over Lenoir City, Zeller said, but the Panthers are
champing at the bit for the season to begin.
"Our guys are starting to realize it's here,"
Zeller said. "It's been a long preseason. The season started a week later, so that was just another
week of practice, hitting each other. They're tired of that."
Lenoir City senior running back
Caleb Wilson agreed and said there will be plenty of opportunities to hit Friday as the Panthers
plan for a physical contest.
"They're definitely very physical," Wilson said. "We're going to
have to come out and play hard. They have a lot of good skill players we're going to have to watch
Loudon's focus for Friday's game starts with one player, Lenoir City junior and
University of Tennessee commit Jaylond Woods.
"Obviously, everything is going to revolve
around Jaylond,' Harig said. "We've got to find out where Jaylond's at and make sure we have a plan
to handle him being anywhere on the field. After that, the supporting cast and role players, we've
got to limit their opportunities also."
Loudon is focused on taking care of their own
problems on the field after last week's loss.
"One of our big things we talked about is
execution," Loudon senior Will Napier said. "We've got to work on execution this week, and
discipline as well."
The game being a rivalry means some added pressure on both teams.
"This is how your season is measured," Harig said. "It just changes the attitude of your
season. You want that bragging right. I want our banner back is what I want."
snapped a seven-year losing streak in the series last season, but Zeller said that doesn't ease up
any of the pressure this time around.
"I think every year is a new year and a new set of
challenges," Zeller said. "It's such a big game and has such a history I think you treat each year
separately, each game separately."
Wilson and Napier agreed that the rivalry provides a
combination of nerves and excitement, drawing what is likely the largest crowd either team will play
in front of during the regular season.
"It definitely brings a crowd," Napier said.
"Everybody gets excited."
"I can't wait," Wilson said. "It's going to be a good game and I
think we're all ready for it."