Lincoln will play East Jessamine at 6 p.m. in the Death Valley Bowl and Garrard County will face Rowan County at approximately 8:30.
Settles and the Patriots struggled through a 1-9 season in his first year as Lincoln head coach. In 2009, Settles feels his squad, which boasts 54 players, 11 more than last season, has the potential for a better year.
"At this point, we're still not sure if we've improved. But our hope is to improve off last year and we think we have what we need to do that," said Settles. "We have young kids but they do have experience – experience they got last year when they were forced to step up and play. And you can't coach experience, it just happens."
Team chemistry is another reason behind Settles' optimism.
"I believe that our unity is very good and that is a big factor in how successful we'll be," he said. "Last year, there was very little chemistry because of a lot of reasons, but mainly injuries. It was a very difficult schedule we had to play with guys with very little experience who weren't sure of their roles on the team."
Settles feels the addition of strength coach Chuck Miller, who formerly worked with Boyle County, will help Lincoln be better prepared this time around and less prone to injuries.
When it comes to players knowing their roles on the team, Settles says he feels this 2009 team knows its responsibilities.
"This year we have stressed team leadership and team unity and understanding your role as a player on Lincoln County's football team," said Settles. "And I think it's helped our players understand their responsibilities to the team."
Settles says he has witnessed first-hand his players taking that responsibility.
"I'm really impressed with Scotty Bradford and Jordan Coffman. They've really stepped up vocally as seniors. They've shown great leadership," he said. "And I think the team did a good job of recognizing hard work and team leadership when they voted on our four captains."
Captains chosen by the Patriots were junior Brandon Graham and seniors Jordan Coffman, Julian Calhoun and Clayton Cooper.
Captains Calhoun, Coffman and Cooper make up one third of Lincoln's senior roster. Rounding out the list are Bradford, Tanner Edgington, Tyler Miller, Jacob Ruhe and transfers Brandon Mitchell (Nebraska) and Matt Debord (Ohio).
Mitchell and Debord are two of three transfers playing for Lincoln this season. The third transfer is Ryan West, a junior, from Danville.
"In my recent experience as a head coach, if a player is really good the school would do whatever it could to not let him transfer. But that doesn't apply to these three," said Settles. "They're three quality players, they're really good and they've been cleared by the KHSAA."
"Mitchell just knows one speed and that's full speed and I really love that," said Settles. "Debord is a great student of the game. He's a smart player and he's physically tough. He can help us at tight end. And West is definitely going to help us at wide receiver and defensive back."
Settles says he is still tweaking his starting lineup for Friday night, but that the list of potential starters is growing shorter.
On the short list of known starters is Calhoun. The 5'10, 175-lb. back is expected to be a leader on the Patriot offense.
"The main person we expect to have a breakout year is Julian Calhoun," said Settles. "After that, it's hard to say because we're not the most talented team in our area. That's why everybody's got to work hard and play with tremendous effort for 48 minutes every game."
Calhoun isn't the only player already owning a starting spot. With just three days (as of Tuesday) left until game time, the lineup is quickly taking shape.
"Austin Hinds (junior) is our quarterback and Brandon Graham and Julian are our running backs. Up front, our guards will be Scotty Bradford and Vinny Morris (sophomore) and Jericho Ware (junior) will be a tackle," he said. "But there is still competition in most other positions on offense."
Coffman, Debord and Ruhe are competing for a spot at tight end while juniors Johnathan Wilson and Trevor Tarter, sophomore Dylan Sloan and freshmen Zach Brown and Chris Luster battle for the other tackle position. Brown is also being considered at center along with Trevor Stickler, a junior, and Clayton Cooper.