Stroy by Caleb Turrentine | CAScoreboard Writers Club
Photos by Brian Tannehill | Director of Photography
The bright lights were finally shining down on the turf at the new stadium in Wetumpka on Friday night but it was the visiting fans who got to walk away with some positive memories. Prattville shook off a slow offensive start to take down the hosts 41-13, securing the Lions’ third straight victory in the rivalry series and give new head coach JB Wallace his first victory at the helm of a program where he once played.
“This meant a lot,” Wallace said after the game. “It means a lot to be back at home and to get off to a quick start. I know the tradition of this place. Football runs through the blood of Prattville so it’s great to get a win to start the season.”
Prattville (1-0) held a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, taking advantage of a pair of Wetumpka fumbles that gave a short field to the Lions offense. But just when all the momentum was with the visitors, a lightning delay took both teams off the field for 92 minutes.
However, once football resumed, Prattville picked up right where they left off. The Lions capitalized on another Wetumpka fumble as Zay Parrish recovered a loose ball in the end zone to extend Prattville’s lead.
“It was just frustration,” Wetumpka coach Tim Perry said. “Those are lessons we just have to learn as a team. Momentum is such a big part of this game and when you can control it, you’re able to ride that momentum and that flipped it back to them.”
Wetumpka (0-1) put the ball on the turf seven times in the first half, turning it over on three occasions. And the Lions kept the pressure on, building its lead to 20 points before going back into the locker room at halftime.
“A lot of that was the coaching staff,” Wallace said. “They kept all of our guys focused and kept their minds on football.”
The Lions got on the board first in the second half as well, hitting on their first deep pass attempt of the night. Kameran Shanks managed to shrug off a defensive pass interference to haul in a 74-yard TD pass from EJ Ousley. The two connected again late in the third quarter on a 58-yard touchdown to give the Lions an even more comfortable lead before the final frame.
Shanks finished with 161 yards on five receptions, easily making him Ousley’s favorite target of the night. Ousley saw his first pass of the season intercepted by Wetumpka’s Amaerion Hampton but the Prattville quarterback responded well and racked up 210 yards through the air.
“There wasn’t any doubt about that,” Wallace said. “EJ is a tough player and he is a leader so I had no doubt he was going to bounce back from that.”
Wetumpka’s offense had a lot of new faces starting for the first time and it struggled to find any rhythm against a stout Prattville defense. To go along with its three first turnovers, Wetumpka had a missed field goal and was held to negative-4 yards in the first half.
“We just made too many mistakes,” Perry said. “We didn’t make enough plays on offense. We had issues with ball security and we didn’t execute on offense but that’s on me.”
Sophomore quarterback Nate Rogers got his first varsity start and was knocked out of the game at the end of the first half. However, he returned to the field in the third quarter and appeared to be more comfortable in the second half.
Rogers finished with 75 yards through the air including a touchdown pass to Derrick Smith to cap an 80-yard scoring drive for Wetumpka’s first points of the season. Perry said there was a lot to like from Rogers’ performance and he saw a lot of promising flashes from the young playmaker.
“He absolutely made some plays,” Perry said. “That’s not something we were expecting and all of a sudden, he was the starting quarterback so that’s a lot to ask of somebody especially to have a sophomore quarterback against a good 7A school.”
Quinn Wilson got to add some to his highlight reel with a couple of big plays in the second half. He led all players with 76 rushing yards to go along with an 89-yard kick return for a touchdown.
“We want to use him and Stone (Minnifield) to give us a good one-two punch,” Perry said. “We feel like we could use both of those guys to take the pressure off Nate.”
Prattville is at home next week to take on Stanhope Elmore while Wetumpka will continue the search for its first win of the season when it hits the road to take on Tallassee.
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