The Chieftains are inexperienced and missing several players due to injury as they host the 4A Panthers on Friday.

SEMINOLE – The Seminole Chieftains are starting off the 2014 season in unfamiliar territory. In a rare occurrence, Mike Snyder’s squad will be decided underdogs when they host 4A Harrah on Friday night.

“They’re a top-10 team in 4A,” Snyder said. “Their coaching staff does a great job there. They’re huge up front. They’ll be the biggest team on our schedule other than Kingfisher.”

The Chieftains, already young and inexperienced after graduating most of the starters from last year’s 13-1 squad, have also been hit by the injury bug. Snyder expects to have five or six regulars unavailable for Friday’s game.

“We’re an injury waiting to happen. But our work ethic is good, our preparation is good. It’s just going to take us a while to get going. The biggest thing right now is we’ve got to get healthy.”

The Panthers finished 5-6 last year, but finished the season with four straight losses by a touchdown or less. Harrah started out 5-2 overall, 4-0 in district play before losing to Ada (29-24), Douglass (22-15) and McLoud (29-28) to end the regular before falling to Clinton 27-21 in overtime in the first round of the playoffs.

Harrah’s offense will be based out of the I formation with 5-11, 205-pound tailback Dylan Queen lining up behind a big offensive line led by Division I prospect Logan Roberson. Queen finished with 859 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.

Roberson, a three-year starter, is 6-5 and 300 pounds, and with the Panthers breaking in a new quarterback in Kostner Ingraham, Harrah is likely to rely on the running game even more in the early part of the season. Overall, the Panthers have seven returning starters on offensive, three of those on the offensive line.

Defensively the Panthers are led by strong safety Jordan Fredrickson. A 6-3, 200-pound senior, Fredrickson is another three-year starter who led Harrah with 100 tackles and three interceptions last season.

Snyder’s main focus, though, has been on developing his own team.

“Our biggest concern is executing what we can do. This will be our toughest opener since Duncan [in 2009].”

The Chieftains have won four straight season openers since losing to Duncan 39-2 in 2009. They also lost to the Demons 20-7 in 2008. Those two seasons also mark the last time Seminole finished with a losing record. They’ve won at least nine games in every year since then.