West and Powell set for battle of the undefeated on Friday

Sports

It will be a battle of unbeaten teams on Friday when West travels to Powell for a Week 9 showdown.

While each team is coming off its bye week, the Panthers and Rebels have steamrolled through the 2019 season and each enter Friday night’s 7:30 p.m. game with identical 7-0 records.

“The guys know this is a big game,” West head coach Lamar Brown said. “Everybody in Knoxville is talking about it and it should be a big game. It’s two great football teams playing each other. It should be a fun night at Powell.”

Powell is averaging 42.2 points per game this season while its defense, which has not allowed more than one touchdown in a game since Aug. 30, is allowing 10.2 points per game this season.

West has similar numbers this season. The Rebels are averaging 38.5 points and allowing 13.2 points per game on defense.

“If you look at win-losses and how everything‘s followed suit, both teams played some very close games up front and then certainly the back half of the schedule they’ve had some more lopsided wins,” Powell head coach Matt Lowe said. “It’s been very scary how these two teams have mirrored each other all the way up to this point. The good thing is you get the plate on a Friday night the field and someone is going to come out a winner.”

Since Brown took over the Rebels program in 2017, West has owned one of the best defenses in East Tennessee. What’s new is the offensive production. Rebels quarterback Baker Dance has thrown for over 900 yards with 15 touchdowns while running back Isaiah Mattress has racked up 641 rushing yards with eight trips to the end zone. Dance’s favorite target this season has been Omarion Wright, who has totaled 473 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

“Their offense really growing this year has been the big difference of where they were a year ago and where they are now,” Lowe said. “They’ve had great defensive football for the last two or three years.”

“We’ve been able to have fun with our offense,” Brown said. “We’ve been able to grow it and the biggest reason is we’ve got all five offensive linemen back from last year and that’s huge. We’ve got some playmakers on the edge that can go score at any time they touch the ball and Baker Dance has done an unbelievable job running our offense up to this point.”

Lowe, who graduated from Powell in 1995 before becoming the program’s football from 2006-11, has produced some of the top talent in the area since taking over the program for a second time in 2018.

Panthers quarterback Walker Trusley has accounted for 1,358 passing yards with 16 touchdowns while Bailor Hughes has led the way with 590 yards on the ground. Hughes and Corrion McIntosh have combined for 13 rushing touchdowns. On defense, Colton Webb leads the area with 17 tackles for loss.

“They look like a great football team,” Brown said. “They’ve got all the parts. Coach Lowe and his staff have done a great job over there building that program. They’ve got weapons all over the field offense of Lee and defensively they are so aggressive and so physical. That’s going to give us a big challenge on Friday night.”

“They love having packed houses,” Brown said. “They love having lots of media here. It’s what makes it fun. It’s why you do what you do during the off-season to put yourself in this position and so both teams have done that and both teams get to have the benefit of coming out in front of a big crowd in the Knoxville area and kind of controlling the market.”

The WATE Sports team will take a look back at the showdown as well as more than a dozen other area matchups with a new edition of Friday Frenzy starting Friday night at 11:14 p.m.

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