Fans pack Dr. M.E. Thompson Field for the 2011 home opener against Wartburg. (Independent Herald file photo.)
Oneida fans pack Dr. M.E. Thompson Field for the Indians' 2011 home opener against Wartburg. (Independent Herald file photo.)

It isn't every day that WVLT calls about adding your team to a Rivalry Thursday game that will be televised throughout the Knoxville market.

So Oneida coach Tony Lambert aims to take advantage of the showcase.

"We need everybody to come out," Lambert said of his team's game against Greenback tonight (7 p.m.). "We want to show East Tennessee what Oneida football is all about."

Oneida played in the inaugural Rivalry Thursday game on MyVLT in 2009, narrowly losing to Gatlinburg-Pittman in a 7-6 decision. This week will mark the Indians' first time on East Tennessee's biggest football stage since that August 2009 game.

The Indians find themselves facing a Greenback team that is simply phenomenal. The Cherokees returned almost every starter from a team that defeated the Indians 26-7 at Dr. M.E. Thompson Field last season. Last week, Greenback dominated a Coalfield team that many figured to be a favorite for the Class 1A state championship, winning 31-7.

Lambert does not dwell heavily on his opponent when he speaks publicly. The Cherokees' record speaks for itself.

"Greenback is skilled and they're fast. That's all we need to say about that," he said.

Lambert's team has raised some eyebrows in their own right. Many folks outside Oneida expected the Indians to be in for a rough start to the season after graduating almost every major contributor from last year's team. Instead, Oneida gutted out an overtime, come-from-behind win at Rockwood to open the season and has not come close to losing since, racing to a 4-0 start while outscoring its opponents by a combined 109-35 the last three weeks.

Tonight's game will be televised on MyVLT, with kickoff slated for 7 p.m. For satellite subscribers, that's channel 30 on either Dish Network or DirecTV. For cable subscribers, it's channel 17 on Highland Media. Comcast does not offer MyVLT in Scott County.

The game will also be broadcast on WBNT FM 105.5, and online at hive105.com or on the TuneIn mobile app.

Of course, Lambert hopes there is no one left at home to watch the game on TV.

"We have a young football team and our kids react when the crowd turns out and gets into it," he said. "It's electric. And that's what's great about Oneida. We hope everybody comes out and takes advantage of all the festivities and activities."

The "Indian Walk" will take place around 3:45 p.m., along Bank Street to the OHS Fieldhouse. Fans are invited to line the street and take part, and will begin gathering at the fieldhouse at 3:30 p.m. Gates open at 4:30 p.m., and pregame begins shortly after 6:30 p.m.

With no other high school team in the area in action, Lambert expects a good crowd.

"I'd like to pack it out," he said. "I'd like to see the smoke boiling from the grills. I'd like to see everybody tailgating. I'd like to get all those prizes they (MyVLT) give out (for fan spirit)."