Last year, Dadeville and Reeltown might as well have not played. The Rebels put up 14 points on Tiger miscues before the Tigers even touched the ball, and from there, it was like Dadeville was already ready to pack it in.
But this year, that’s going to be a much different story.
“I think we got embarrassed last year,” Dadeville coach Richard White said. “That’s not necessarily a motivating factor but that’s something you want to correct as best you can with what you’ve got. We got down two touchdowns real quick and like I said, it was like letting the air out of the balloon.”
But the Tigers are fired up and looking for revenge. Both Reeltown (1-0) and Dadeville (1-0) are coming off victories to start the season, but both expect Thursday’s game to be an even bigger test.
“I think all the offseason hype you hear about Dadeville being down, I think it’s not true,” Rebel coach Matt Johnson said. “Dadeville is a much better team than they were last year. They’re very fundamentally sound, so I think this is a big game. This is going to be a real big test for us. I think they’re as good or better than Bullock County.”
Both Dadeville and Reeltown have some serious offensive weapons. Cameron Faison got off to a great start last week for the Rebels, nearing 100 yards on the ground. Johnny Brown and Marcus Haynes were also two top receivers for Reeltown, and Iverson Hooks took over the quarterback spot flawlessly.
“I think we’re going to get a dose of Faison,” White said. “They’re also going to try to get the ball to (Brown) and (Eric) Shaw. The quarterback is so elusive; he reminds me of a kid I used to have, (Margarius) Buchanan. He can make something of the ball when he gets in trouble. That’s the main thing is we have to figure out how to hem up that quarterback and not let him turn something bad into something good.”
As for Dadeville, the Tigers might be one of the few teams to have someone offensively who can match the speed of Faison. Christian Nelson proved he’s a lightning threat in last week’s game and Javuntae Holley also adds a lot of speed at running back. Jamarion Wilkerson had a touchdown reception in which he just completely outran the Horseshoe Bend defense a week ago.
“They do a real good job of attacking the edge,” Johnson said. “They run jet sweep a lot so they keep you honest on the perimeter but most of their inside runs are based off that same look. They do a good job of mixing up with traps and counters running inside the box off of that jet sweep look, so you have to be real sound defensively. You can’t do too much.”
Although the Rebels have a threatening defense — they were dominating in the second quarter of last week’s game against Bullock County — Dadeville will obviously try to establish a running game first and foremost. But it has the weapons at receiver and Lane Smith got a lot of time from his offensive line so if he needs to throw the ball, he can.
The Tigers will have to have a stronger mentality in Thursday’s game than they did last year though because White said as long as it’s close in the fourth quarter, anything can happen.
“Main thing we gotta do is stay within ourselves,” White said. “Last year, it got away from us real quick and we panicked. We got behind and didn’t know how to come back and we pressed too much. We can’t press this ballgame. We just have to control what we do.”