ECHS Holtville

File / The Herald Elmore County will likely turn to Lapatrick Brown (28) to help the offense put up enough points to defeat Dallas County.

There are plenty of high school coaches who know the effect distractions of homecoming week can have on a football team. Fortunately for Elmore County, the team is looking for some added energy as its season fate has already been decided and only three games remain.

“Some of those distractions are not going to be there because it’s fall break this week too,” ECHS coach Jordan Cantrell said. “But we want the kids to have fun and enjoy the whole week. We have a football game but this is about making those memories that will last a lifetime.”

Elmore County (1-6) is looking to add another mark to the win column as it ushers in a non-region foe, Dallas County. The Panthers want to avoid their first 1-win season since 1993. Cantrell said the team has talked about the limited opportunities that remain and everyone is wanting to finish on a positive note.

“They’ll always remember this season,” Cantrell said. “And they owe it to themselves to go out there and play hard. The kids have worked hard and we just want to win a football game.”

With the final two games being against the region leader in Lincoln and a Class 5A team in Tallassee, this week may provide the best opportunity for the Panthers. However, Dallas County (3-4) has not rolled over for anyone.

The Hornets are in position to grab a playoff spot for the second time since 2004 with all three of their wins coming in region play.

“They’re still very athletic but they are very much improved as a team,” Cantrell said. “The coaching staff is doing a good job and they are very organized. We have to prepare for them just like we do any other team on the schedule.”

Dallas County’s offense has seen better days, averaging just 18.9 points per game, but Cantrell said the Hornets can still cause problems for any defense. They like to spread the field out but will often turn to their run game whether it is out of the shotgun or from a tight set under center.

“They do a lot of both and that can be challenging,” Cantrell said. “You have to make sure you’re aligned right. And you have to make adjustments as you go because you’re not sure what you’re going to get on every snap.”

Elmore County’s defense will have to hit a new level to limit Dallas County on the scoreboard as the Panthers have allowed 36.3 points per game. The Panthers have allowed at least 33 points in all six of their losses.

Dallas County is coming off a 53-20 loss to West Blocton which could give the Panthers some hope. West Blocton runs a double-wing offense and ran the ball effectively against the Hornets. However, Dallas County also limited Sumter Central, a wing-T team, to just 14 points and Cantrell said he knows the Hornets will not give up any easy yards.

PREDICTION: Dallas County 35, Elmore County 28

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.