Tallassee coach Mike Battles is a big believer in a team seeing its biggest improvements between Game 1 and Game 2 of a season and he has the proof to back him up this year. Now, the Tigers hope to see those improvements grow at a steady pace as they travel to Greenville this week to face off with the defending Class 5A Region 2 champions to begin region play.
“We just grew up,” Battles said. “All of our players grew up from Game 1 to Game 2. Those young kids made some great plays. We’re starting to do what we’re supposed to do.”
Tallassee (1-1) is not a program accustomed with losing a season opener but the Tigers bounced back well to get on the winning track before the battle for a playoff spot began. Battles said the team knew the tough schedule it was looking at before the season started and 0-4 could have happened really easily but now it has seen encouraging signs from everyone on the field.
“That’s very important,” Battles said. “Success breeds success so when you do get a win against a good football team, you get some confidence. They have been in the fight now against a really good team so I think this worked out great for us. They have an idea of what to expect at this level.”
Greenville (1-1) is still trying to find the same success it had with last season’s team which made it to the state semifinals, the program’s most successful season in more than two decades. Greenville has not shown off the same offensive firepower it had last season but Battles and the Tigers are still preparing for it either way.
“They’re big up front on both sides of the ball,” Battles said. “Their quarterback is not big but he can run so we have to have somebody who is watching him all the time. They are an explosive team. If you’re not really careful, they can get on you in a hurry.”
Using a no-huddle, spread offense, Greenville can light up the scoreboard and it proved that last season when it averaged 37 points per game in region play. However, Greenville has scored a total of just 25 points in two games this season.
“They played Hillcrest-Evergreen who has a lot of great athletes,” Battles said. “They played Carver who is a tremendous athletic team. We don’t have those people that they have. When the quarterback takes off, we have to be sound up front to make sure we don’t let the quarterback out. We don’t have anyone that can catch him so we have to stay in our gaps up front.”
Greenville does have a new quarterback, Crishon Crenshaw, who lacks the experience the team had at the position last season but Battles said he has already shown plenty of ability to make big plays with his feet. Jamar Jackson will take the reins at running back while Kedarrius Arron can make plays on both sides and special teams for Greenville.
“We’re going to have to account for a lot so we have to be really sound on defense,” Battles said. “And our best defense is going to be our offense. We have to keep the chains moving to give our guys a break. I can tell you this: If their offense is on the field a bunch then we are not going to win the ball game. They are just too explosive.”
Battles said the biggest difference between the loss in Week 0 and the win in Week 1 was limiting the amount of time his defense was on the field. Tallassee has confidence its defense can play with anybody but getting tired is still a concern so the Tigers want to see more consistency on offense to have any chance of competing with the best in their region.
PREDICTION: Greenville 28, Tallassee 14