After last week’s heart-crushing loss to the McMinn County Cherokees, the Eagles will be looking to get back on the right side of things with a game against the Panthers of Lenoir City.
The Eagles enter the game with a record of 2-1 on the season and a 1-0 mark in region play. The Panthers are 2-2 and 1-0 in region play.
These two teams have met a total of three times with Rhea County winning each one. The first and second meetings were in the opening round of the 2013 and 2016 playoffs. They met in the regular season last year when the regions were realigned.
This will be the Eagles’ first ever game at Lenoir City.
On offense, the Panthers are led by Gabe Williams, a solid passer and capable runner at the quarterback spot. At running back, look for Preston Adams to get the majority of the carries. Cody Clevenger will be one of the go-to receivers for Lenoir City, and he is definitely one to watch.
Defensively, Cayden Clark will anchor the defensive line, while Jonathan Miller contributes in run support from his linebacker position.
For the Eagles, the triple option offense will be looking to rebound after its not-so-stellar showing against the McMinn County Cherokees, but it will have to do so without starting offensive and defensive lineman Garrett Smith who suffered a medical scare at the game last week that required a trip to the hospital. He has seen a massive improvement since Friday, and is at resting home.
On defense, the Eagles unit, which has given up an average of less than 13 points a game, will be led by the usual star players in Chandler Kaylor and Bradley Goodwin at the inside linebacker spots, Bo Garmany at defensive line, and electric athlete Aulbrey Smith keeping passing attacks in check from his safety position.
The defense will also be without a major contributor as Destin Shelfer, a junior running back and linebacker, injured his ankle during the game last week and is expected to miss a couple games.
I fully anticipate this game to be a tight one throughout as Lenoir City has seen vast improvement from year to year, and has looked more than capable of being in the top 3 in Region 4-5A.
A win for either team would all but solidify a spot at #2 in region seeding with each team still needing to play Catholic. Rhea County also has yet to face Soddy-Daisy, who Lenoir City defeated in a tight 33-31 game at Soddy-Daisy. The Panthers still have to play Walker Valley who the Eagles defeated 49-10 two weeks ago.
A lot is riding on this game for both teams, and I think it comes down to the wire. I trust the Eagles to pull it out and win in a dogfight.
Brian’s pick: Rhea County 28, Lenoir City 24
Other Region 4-5A Games:
Soddy-Daisy @ Knoxville Catholic
Brian’s pick: Catholic 42, Soddy-Daisy 28