As the 2017 season began, one of the primary concerns of Oneida head coach Tony Lambert and his staff was defense. The Indians knew opposing teams would have a difficult time running on them; they’re solid in the front seven. But with a lot of youth on the edges and in the defensive backfield, the concern was that Oneida would have trouble starting the big play.

The potential for some trouble as new players grow into their positions was evident in the first half of Oneida’s game against Gatlinburg-Pittman. The Highlanders twice ripped off big plays in the first half, one covering 77 yards for a touchdown and the other covering 81 yards for a second score.

But consider this: through the first three games of the season, Oneida has given up a grand total of 331 yards of offense. That’s an average of 110 yards per game against a schedule that includes two Class 3A teams.

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The complete story can be found in the Sept. 7, 2017 print edition of the Independent Herald.