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Coaches talk breaks, first-half thoughts

Story by Griffin Pritchard | Publisher

Photos by Brian Tannehill | Director of Photography

CENTRAL ALABAMA SCOREBOARD OFFICE – The high school football season has reached the halfway point and several teams throughout the area are taking a break, preparing to make a final run to the postseason – or wrestling season – whichever comes first. According to the CAScoreboard MasterSchedule Edgewood, Trinity, St. James, Glenwood, Horseshoe Bend, Beulah, Tallassee, Alabama Christian, Pike Road, Reeltown and Spanish Fort are all off this weekend.

“This couldn’t have come at a better time for us. This is a good week to have (off),” said Mike Battles, coach of the Tallassee High Tigers. “We’ve got some kids that have those middle of the season injuries that just kind of nag on you for the rest of the year. We’re taking (Monday) off and going to practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and take Friday off and then it’ll be a normal game week after that.”

The Tigers – who were supposed to be playing Pike Road this week for homecoming until both schools decided to save that showdown for the playoffs – open the second half of the season with successive road trips to Beauregard, Talladega and Holtville before ending the regular season with home dates against Central-Clay County and Carroll-Ozark.

Battles: “Our offense is playing really well right now. Tyler Ellis is really coming into his own and has improved so much from last year to this year and I’m glad he’s only a junior. He’s staying in the pocket and making good decisions. Our wide receivers are doing a good job catching the ball and our offensive line is doing a good job blocking for him. And when you put all of those elements together and then you throw somebody like a Jalyn Daniels in there – we’ve got a real good chance to do something special.”

Tallassee’s offense, through four games this season, has put up 129 points and have been a play or two away from being 4-0 instead of a deceptive 2-2 (1-1 in region play). In Friday’s 48-10 blowout of Elmore County, the Tigers only punted one time. Battles added that his bunch has had trouble getting started – be it in the first quarter or coming out of the half.

“We did both of those things well (against Elmore County),” said Battles. “So there is improvement there.”

But, with five games remaining and a shot at the postseason still up for grabs, the Tigers have to improve on defense. While the offense has put up 129 points, the defense has allowed 76 points including back-to-back last second losses to Wetumpka (18-14) in Game 2 and on the road at Sylacauga (35-33) in Game 3.

Battles: “Obviously we’ve got to improve on defense. We are doing a good job, but we aren’t tackling real well and we are giving up a lot of yards after contact. We are getting to the right places, but we’ve got to work on our tackling. I thought we looked good with our coverage (against Elmore County). You know they threw the ball a lot with Payton Stephenson and Jabari Murphy. But we did a good job defending it; picked off two passes. Our kicking game has been stable. But if we can do a better job tackling and continue to improve in those places, we’ll have more and more shots at success.”

Coaches – from throughout the CAScoreboard were asked questions about the state of their teams through the first half of the 2021 football season. Below are their answers.  

Banks Academy | Riley White | Class AA AISA

I have seen great improvement in our 2nd year in the AISA, but we still have a long way to go in trying to reach our ultimate goal of playing championship football. Now with a year of experience under our belts, and a great off-season and summer, we are much more competitive than we were a year ago. If Banks Academy football was a house, I’d say we’re still pouring concrete for the foundation.   

We have played extremely well defensively through the first half of the year. Our Defensive Coordinator, Jermaine Watson, has done a great job of preparing our guys for Friday nights, and that has kept us in games when we were struggling offensively. We’re young across the board, and our starting front 7 are all underclassmen, which is exciting.

We have been explosive offensively at times but have majorly struggled with consistency. We’re putting the ball on the ground an average of 5-6 times a game, and that has been the difference in both of our losses this year. We also have to clean up our Special Teams mistakes and turn that aspect of the game into a strength rather than letting it continue to be our Achilles Heel.

Montgomery Catholic | Kirk Johnson | Class 3A AHSAA

I think we are playing well. Our goal is to get better each week & I feel like for the most part we have done that. 

One of our biggest strengths is we are playing as a complete team in all 3 phases of the game. Special teams are doing a great job of pinning people deep and winning field position. Defense is playing really well this year, each player has taken pride in not being the reason for a big play. Offensively we have done a great job of using ALL of our athletes. While Jeremiah Cobb & Caleb McCreary have led the charge offensively, a lot of people have helped contribute to the point total. 

Of course we want to continue to play our brand of football in the second (part of the) season. We also want to make sure that each game we learn something and get better from it. I would love for us to cut down on penalties as well.

Sparta Academy | Arlton Hudson | Class A AISA

We are off to a good start 4-0 2-0 in region play averaging 43 points a game while giving up 15. Led by QB Parker Spears with 534 yds rushing (8 TDs) and 235 yards passing (2 TDs) and on defense by Ja’Micah Moore (LB) with 32 tackles and 9 sacks . 

Trinity Presbyterian | Granger Shook | Class 3A AHSAA

This team is really motivated to create its own identity apart from last season. Continue to build on last years’ foundation.

We are 5-0, ranked in the top 10 for the first time in several years…But, I am most proud of our Team’s GPA of 3.7! We as a staff emphasize “learning something in the classroom everyday”…and I think the boys are listening.

We have to continue to improve on us! Not so much our opponent, but we must improve on our basics (blocking, tackling, turnovers) everyday!

Scores and stories from around Central Alabama. More than just a sports Article.

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