It has not been the easiest few days in Eclectic for fans of Elmore County. The Panthers are coming off their fifth straight defeat to rival Tallassee and fourth consecutive loss this season. Elmore County (1-4) is hoping to respond with a big victory when it hosts White Plains this Friday night but there will be some distractions along the way as homecoming week is upon them. However, Panthers coach Jordan Cantrell is confident his team will still be focused on the biggest matter at hand.
“We’ve got to go win a football game,” Cantrell said. “That’s the most important thing… You have to come to work. Our guys always do that with a positive attitude. We just have to keep climbing the mountain.”
White Plains (2-3) will come to town hoping to end a three-game losing streak of its own as neither team has won on the field since the opening week of the season. The Wildcats grabbed a forfeit victory the following week but have fallen below .500 after starting 0-3 in region play. However, the Panthers are not taking this week’s opponent lightly, even if it is homecoming week.
“They are better than what they look on paper, that’s for sure,” Cantrell said. “They’re an athletic team and their coach does a good job of coaching their guys up. We have a lot to prepare for.”
Elmore County has seen its fair share of rushing attacks this season, especially last week when Tallassee ran the ball 37 times to just two pass attempts. However, the Wildcats are expected to bring a more two-dimensional attack on offense.
“They like to spread the love,” Cantrell said. “They like to run the football but they like to throw it some too … You just have to get your work in in practice. We want to do a better job against the run this week but we have to stop the pass too.”
White Plains’ offense is led by quarterback Jaden Chatman who has shown plenty of dual-threat capabilities this season. In last week’s loss to Cherokee County, Chatman completed 20 of his 33 pass attempts for 251 yards and a touchdown while adding a touchdown on the ground as well.
The Wildcats had three different receivers record at least four catches and 73 yards with Carson Tyree leading the way with nine receptions.
“They have a good receiving core,” Cantrell said. “They like to run some deep routes. We really have to work with our guys this week to have good coverage and we need a good pass rush to disrupt their quarterback.”
Elmore County had some success of its own through the air last week, showing off multiple avenues of success on its way to a 375-yard offensive performance.
White Plains struggled last week with its rush defense, allowing three backs to surpass 50 yards. However, the Wildcats have shown flashes of brilliance on defense, specifically in their season opener against Ranburne when they allowed just 30 rushing yards on 23 carries.
“They run a lot of different looks in their front,” Cantrell said. “That’s something we have to prepare for. We want to be multiple and we are looking to throw the ball more. We still want to establish the run though.”
PREDICTION: Elmore County 34, White Plains 27