With Tallassee and Elmore County both eliminated from the playoffs, Friday night’s tilt between bitter rivals was for pride and bragging rights.
And on the first cold game night of the year, tempers flared between the Tigers and Panthers as Tallassee charged to a 41-7 victory. The Tigers outgained Elmore County 399 yards to 143 and more than tripled the Panthers’ rushing yardage.
Tallassee coach Mike Battles said the season’s two final victories — the Tigers’ win over Beauregard last week and Friday’s blowout of their bitter rivals from Eclectic — would be weighed heavier in the Tiger seniors’ memory than the pain of missing the postseason.
“Those were two biggies and I was proud of our seniors,” Battles said. “They could’ve folded up and we could’ve laid down when we found out we weren’t in the playoffs. They’ll look back and think about those two ballgames and probably won’t think so much about the others.”’
Elmore County coach Jordan Cantrell tipped his hat to Tigers, noting the difficulty of Tallassee’s Class 5A regional schedule. The game saw nine penalties for Tallassee and 10 for Elmore County, many of them personal fouls and other flags denoting the high emotions on both sides of the ball.
“Watching the game, you wouldn’t think it was such a blowout with the intensity on each side,” Cantrell said. “Even with them so far up, both teams were still fighting.”
The game opened with an odd pair of plays, both ending with Tallassee senior lineman Will Blocker scoring unlikely touchdowns. On the Tigers’ first offensive drive, Marciano Smith was fighting for yardage inside the 10-yard line when ball squirted out and Blocker grabbed the fumble and dove for the touchdown.
And as a Panther drive fizzled, ECHS’ Zac Jones had his punt blocked and Blocker fell on it in the end zone for a second touchdown.
The Tiger offensive attack asserted itself after that. Zavion Carr broke free for a 58-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter. And just before halftime, freshman quarterback Tyler Ellis found Jayln Daniels all alone over the middle for a 30-yard touchdown.
The Panthers got on the board on their first possession of the second half, as senior quarterback Dylan Weaver hit a perfect fade pass to Zion Reed for a 36-yard touchdown. Jones’ point-after kick was good.
Tallassee struck twice more in the third quarter. Senior Eng’Tavius Briskey-Chappell came in to finish a drive from the one-yard line. And Demetrius Washington broke free near midfield for a 58-yard touchdown dash. Kicker Clay Johnson was 5 of 6 on point after conversions in the game.
It was an emotional scene as each team gathered at midfield after the final whistle. Cantrell took a few minutes with the Panther seniors, all 10 spent from the physical game, with hot tears of emotion spilling down each player’s face.
“These guys are really tough,” he said. “Our record doesn’t indicate how tough our dudes are. I wouldn’t want to go to battle with anyone else.”
Tallassee finished the season with a 5-4 record, including a perfect 4-0 at home. Elmore County’s difficult 2019 campaign closed with a 2-8 record.