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Countdown to Kickoff: Lenoir City

LENOIR CITY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Lenoir City enters 2012 coming off one of its better seasons in school history.

The Panthers posted a 7-6 record, but surprised many by making it to the state quarterfinals.

Much of the team is back, giving Lenoir City plenty of reason to believe things can be even better in 2012.

"We're not really gonna sneak up on any teams this year," linebacker Jordan Willis said.

"They expect us to be a battle. They're gonna have to earn their win. The whole team is excited and ready to go."

Lenoir City returns seven defensive starters and eight on offense. It was believed that number would be nine, but, because of academic issues, the Panthers won't have the services of standout wide receiver Camion Patrick.

Nevertheless, there is plenty of talent on this Lenoir City squad. Head coach Mike Zeller has slowly built the Panthers into a formidable program.

"We took baby steps," Zeller said, now in his fifth year at Lenoir City.

"But these guys have been playing together for a long time. We have a lot of starters are returning, so hopefully we can build on last year."

Lenoir City opens up the season August 23 against longtime rival Loudon. It's a Rivalry Thursday game that will air on MyVLT.

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