Tyler Ellis 2

Caleb Turrentine / The Tribune Tallassee quarterback Tyler Ellis, left, will get his first varsity start alongside three sophomore running backs Thursday night at Montgomery Catholic.

The first game of the season was never going to be easy for Tallassee’s offense but it would be hard to find a tougher challenge on the schedule. However, the Tigers are excited to hit the field and are ready to prove themselves as they travel to take on Class 5A No. 6 Montgomery Catholic.

“You’re going to have to beat the good teams to get where you want to be,” Tallassee coach Mike Battles said. “I think it’s good we are playing a tough team and I think that’s going to help us out down the line as long as we take advantage of the situation.”

Tallassee is wasting no time to test freshman quarterback Tyler Ellis, who leads a young offense that combines for zero career starts on the offensive line and in the backfield. The Knights are coming off a season where they held opponents under 10 points in seven of 11 games, including four shutouts.

“They’re all going to get their first starts so they are fixing to find out what varsity football in Alabama is all about,” Battles said. “Going against a quality opponent, they will have to get in there and get after it but if they do that, we’ll be in good shape.”

Montgomery Catholic lost some of its key players from that defense but it is reloading with young talent including Class of 2022 4-star linebacker TJ Dudley. Battles said the Tigers cannot get rattled by any big plays from the opposing talent and the offense has to be focused on taking care of the ball and staying on the field.

“Move the chains and don’t turn the ball over,” Battles said. “Catholic is a really good football team. They have a couple of college prospects on the line so for us to have a chance at success, our offense is going to have to control the ball. If we have to put our defense out there too much, it will not be a good night for us.”

Tallassee won last year’s meeting 28-7 in a defensive slug fest and while the result could change, Battles said he expects to see the same kind of game. As with all Week 0 matchups, it can be tough to predict what an opposing team is going to do in the first game of the season but Battles said that’s the way it has always been and his team will be ready to adjust when needed.

“We scout the year before to get an idea of what they plan to try to do,” Battles said. “You look at the things they were successful with last season and the things they did successful against us. They’ll throw in a wrinkle here or there but we’ll get what we can and then go from there. They’re going to have some surprises for us and we’re going to have some surprises for them.”

This game marks the first of three consecutive road games to start but that is having no effect on the attitude and energy around the team. Battles said he has already seen the energy elevate over the last two weeks and he expected it to hit another level during practice.

“You better be excited for it now because it’s here,” Tallassee coach Mike Battles said. “I think we’ll have a little extra bounce in our step this week. They know we’re going to be playing somebody in (two) days.”

Prediction: Montgomery Catholic 20, Tallassee 7

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.