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Reeltown’s Gabe Bryant looks to pass against St. James.

If everything goes as planned, Reeltown coach Matt Johnson likes the odds for this week’s matchup.

Johnson said the Rebels will have their hands full this week when Montgomery Catholic (2-1, 1-0 Class 3A Region 4) comes to Nix-Webster-O’Neal Stadium, but he isn’t under the impression his team will walk away losers in this game.

“They’ve got an extremely good team,” Johnson said. “They are big and fast. There’s not a lot of weaknesses when you turn on the film. They have depth at every position.”

Johnson will be beating the drum this week about penalties and how limiting or eliminating them all together is how the Rebels are going to beat a well-disciplined and talented team like Catholic.

“If we have stalled drives, it will be a recipe for disaster,” Johnson said. “We have to continue to play our style of ball by sticking to our identity, eliminating penalties and miscues with ball security. If we do those things, I like our chances.”

The Rebels walked away from their first region game of the season with a big 28-8 win over Childersburg last week. The win was much needed for the Rebels after the 31-20 loss to St. James the week before.

On the other hand, the Knights are coming off a huge region win as well over Rebel rival Dadeville, a game in which Montgomery Catholic shut out the Tigers, 30-0. 

Johnson said it’s going to be important for the Rebels to limit self-inflicted mistakes and play classic Reeltown football until the final whistle is blown.

“We have got to clean up the penalties and turnovers,” Johnson said. “We put the ball on the ground a couple times and penalties killed three drives for us offensively. Right now it’s cleaning up the details and doing the little things.”

When it comes to stopping the Knights’ offense, Johnson thinks if the Rebels can limit mistakes and each player does his job, the Rebels can make it difficult for Catholic to move the ball.

“It’s hard to replicate what they do,” Johnson said. “They like to run an option offense, so we will have to be disciplined at the line of scrimmage. Our defense played the best it has all year last week, so if we line up right and don’t miss assignments, then I like our chances.”

On the Rebel offense, Johnson has been excited about the emergence of Dakarian “Juicy” Hughley at the running back spot who amassed 17 carries for over 100 yards in the win and has gradually gone from Scooter Brooks’ backup to splitting carries with Brooks.

Johnson has also felt more comfortable with quarterback Gabe Bryant as the season has progressed. Johnson has given Bryant more and more of the playbook and responsibility, really building trust and building a bond that will need to be tight if the Rebels want to beat the Knights and have a shot to get back to where they were last year.

“Gabe made some good throws,” Johnson said. “He started off overthrowing some guys early but calmed down and really started to make accurate throws. Confidence with him is continuing to grow.”

Ryne Gallacher is a sports writer for The Outlook.