Welcome to the show, Sale Creek.
The first-year football program made its debut under the lights of Saturday's Best of Preps jamboree -- and made a good showing by battling Grace Academy to a scoreless tie.
Playing on the same Finley Stadium turf that the Panthers will use as their home field this season, they gave up just one big play near the end of the quarter, which put Grace in field-goal range. However, the attempt fell short as time expired.
"This is one of the best feelings of my life, to be honest," said Panthers senior Cody Daniel, who returned an interception 47 yards on the game's opening possession. "Just to be out here on this field, in front of a lot of people, getting to play football is awesome. I wish I could've had the chance to do this for the last three years of my high school career.
"Now we're ready to get the season started and see what we can do in a real game."
Sale Creek kicks off the regular season this Friday at Oakdale, then travels to Red Boiling Springs before making its home debut back at Finley against perennial powerhouse South Pittsburg.
"I thought our defense played well," Panthers coach Ron Cox said. "We only gave up the one big play, and I think we can be pretty good on that side of the ball.
"It was great to be out here letting the kids get the butterflies out and play in front of a crowd."
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...