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Kenneth Boone / Tallapoosa Publsihers Elmore County's Keshawn Benson carries the ball.

With last week’s loss to Handley, Elmore County was officially eliminated from the postseason and now the Panthers are forced to try to find some positives in the last four weeks. While there may not be anything more than bragging rights to play for in the remaining games, ECHS coach Jordan Cantrell said he does not think it will be any issue keeping his players motivated.

“This is football,” Cantrell said. “There is always something to play for. I hate that it’s this way but we have to keep working and have pride in competing. That’s what we are here to do and I know our guys are going to come to work.”

Despite going up against the best opponent it has faced all season last week, Elmore County is looking for a better performance than it had against Handley. The Panthers are hoping to take advantage of a short week this week as they travel to Childersburg for a Thursday night clash between the bottom two teams in Class 4A Region 4.

“We want to get back out there and prove we can play better,” Cantrell said. “I think it will be good for us to get back out a little early. We will have enough preparation time so I think it’s good for the guys.”

Childersburg (2-4, 0-3) could not take advantage of a quick start to the season and is currently riding a four-game losing streak. However, the Tigers are coming off of a bye week and that could cause problems for an Elmore County team who has struggled with fatigue and depth.

“I wouldn’t even say they’re struggling,” Cantrell said. “They have played some good opponents over the last couple of weeks. And they’re going to have some fresh legs for sure. There’s not much we can do about that but they are going to have a little rest. We are just going to have to compete.”

The Tigers have struggled on offense since the start of region play, scoring just 10.5 points per game over the last five weeks. However, Cantrell said the offense is more potent than it has shown against the likes of Handley and Sylacauga in its last two games and it starts with second-year starting quarterback Cameron Thrash.

“They’re not a bad football team at all,” Cantrell said. “They will spread you out and they can run the ball well. They have a tough quarterback who they rely on to carry the football a lot but he can manage the game well and throw too.”

Elmore County (1-5, 0-4) has seen a little bit more success on offense and Childersburg’s defense has shown some weaknesses, allowing 33 points per game in region play. Cantrell said the Tigers like to play aggressively on defense and they are still showing signs of improvement from last season.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, it is not always easy to tell how a defense will react to their style of offense. Childersburg has faced a couple of run-heavy offenses but the only similar to Elmore County’s was a game from early in the season.

“We have seen a wing-T team play them when they faced Shelby County in Week 0,” Cantrell said. “I’m sure they’ll change a little bit against our offense but we hang our hat on the running game so I hope we can have some success.”

PREDICTION: Childersburg 28, Elmore County 25

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.