The Whetstone High School football team will be looking for a second consecutive victory Friday, Sept. 22, when it plays at Linden-McKinley.
The Braves beat East 26-6 in their City-League North Division opener Sept. 15 for their first victory of the season.
"It feels good to get the first one and that gave our kids a little bump in confidence and motivation when they came in for practice (Sept. 16)," said coach Don Poff, whose team is 1-3 overall."
Whetstone beat Linden 34-6 last season after the Panthers won 7-6 in 2015.
Linden, which is 2-2 and has yet to play a league game, beat Reigning Sports Academy 20-6 on Sept. 15, as running back Amon Smith and quarterback Parker Parsons both scored on 1-yard runs and slotback Eddie Lewis had a 30-yard touchdown run.
The Panthers led 8-0 at halftime and 14-0 through three quarters before Reigning Sports Academy pulled within 14-6 in the fourth quarter.
Linden, which is seeking its first winning season since going 6-4 in 2001, runs a triple-option offense with QuaDarrious McDonald (6-foot-2, 315 pounds) and DeFranko Nelms (6-4, 250) anchoring the line.
The Panthers' 4-3 defense is led by Myzarome Gordon, Smith an onald and Nelms on the line. Linden is allowing 20.3 points per game, but gave up only 12 total points the past two games. The Panthers beat South 12-6 on Sept. 8.
Against East, the Braves played without running back Ephrayim Robinson and fullback Marlon Curry because of injuries.
Whetstone fumbled six times and East recovered four inside the Braves' 20-yard line.
"We had some guys in there who get second- and third-team reps during the week in practices," Poff said. "Plus, because of our injuries, we've taken a little different approach during practices and only go with limited hitting at 75 like percent (of the practices) because we don't need more injuries. So I think our guys weren't used to handling the ball as much and running hard against a physical defense."
Whetstone's defense held its ground after each turnover, though. The Braves led 20-0 in the fourth quarter before the Tigers scored on a 40-yard pass. Defensive back Ibrahim Sesay cemented the victory when he returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown.
Linebacker T.J. Johnson had 15 tackles and defensive end Gerard Reynolds had three sacks.
"I thought T.J. Johnson and Lincoln Mullins played very well at linebacker and Gerard Reynolds and (Sesay) played well," Poff said.
"T.J. also caught a few passes at tight end. He returned a blocked punt (24 yards) for a touchdown and had a 70-yard touchdown (catch) called back because of a penalty. We moved Reynolds to fullback to replace Marlon and he played well. (Quarterback) Teris Crider threw two touchdown passes and made some mature decisions with the ball. Oshea Jones and Lincoln Mullins caught touchdown passes. Our offense made plays, but the fumbles and penalties detracted from it all."
Poff also lauded the play of senior guard Yves Zoungrana, who got his first start against East.
"He never played football before last year and was never more than a scout player, but he played very well," Poff said.
"I also noticed that there was a shift in the team's mentality. We had too much individuality taking place and the leaders came together and decided to work as a team."