Even in a disappointing season, the Elmore County football team got to celebrate a victory on homecoming night last week. Now the Panthers have one final celebration at Burt-Haynie Field this season as they will honor their seniors while hosting Lincoln in the Class 4A Region 4 finale Friday night.
“Of course, it’s always good to win a game and it’s never good if you lose on homecoming,” ECHS coach Jordan Cantrell said. “The kids were excited so we’re hoping some of that carries over but now we have to prepare for another game against a very good team.”
Elmore County (2-6, 0-5) has not had a winless region slate since 1995, which was only a three-game schedule. A sixth loss in region play would tie the program’s record for most region losses in a season.
Cantrell said the Panthers are not thinking about their record with two games left and they just want to prepare like any other game this week. Lincoln (6-2, 5-0) is coming off a win to clinch its second consecutive region title and Cantrell knows it will have to take something special to beat the Bears. He said preparation is important.
“We’re going to take our time to figure out the best game plan this week,” Cantrell said. “We have to be able to stop these guys to be competitive and that has been hard for anyone to do against them. They have a lot of guys that can hurt you.”
Quarterback Javion Surles threw three touchdowns to three different receivers in last week’s 35-0 victory. Surles came back from an early injury to lead the Bears to four touchdown drives in the second half to pull away from Childersburg.
Surles has also gotten work done on the ground and he gets help in the backfield from running backs Jeremy Lane and JD Davis. The Bears rushed for 260 yards in last year’s win over Elmore County.
“We have to control the ball to make sure you don’t let those guys on the field too much,” Cantrell said. “You can’t let them have a lot of chances with the football.”
Elmore County is hoping to see some of the same success Walter Wellborn had against Lincoln early in the season as the Panthers use the same style of offense. Lincoln allowed a season-high 61 points in a loss to Walter Wellborn’s wing-T offense.
“You can pull a lot of stuff from that Walter Wellborn game,” Cantrell said. “There are some things we can do because of personnel and Lincoln has gotten better but we can still utilize that in game prep this week.”
This week will mark the final home game for 11 seniors on Elmore County. Cantrell wants to make sure his team can put out a performance they will want to remember down the road.
“This football team just has two games left together,” Cantrell said. “This is the last home game and that should be plenty of motivation. This is a really good group of seniors and everyone should want to perform well for them.”
FINAL: Lincoln 34, Elmore County 14