LENOIR CITY, TN (WVLT) - Two big rivals took the field tonight in the gridiron tradition known as the Battle of the Bridge.
It was also the first home game for the Lenoir City Panthers since the school board stopped public prayer before kickoff after a controversy exploded in the small town.
For the first time in 40 years, their standard pregame prayer was eliminated.
The band went straight to the National Anthem after presenting of the colors.
Complaints from several organizations and even one student prompted the change.
Fans we talked to say the prayer had been a tradition at games, and helped set the tone for sportsmanship, and a good game.
"To remember exactly what we're doing, to calm everybody down before the game. Remember that this is just a game and there are young men playing this game and sportsmanship is what it's all about," said LCHS Public Address Announcer Mike Bluford.
"Oh I think it's (prayer) a big morale boost. It's something we've always done here and I hate that it's not going to be done. That a small group of people has taken that away from us," said Glen Wilson.