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Lizi Arbogast / The Outlook Reeltown hosts an OTA with Tallassee and Montgomery Academy on Thursday morning.

Ending the summer at Reeltown’s organized team activities (OTAs) was just what Tallassee’s football team needed as it continues to measure the growth of its young offense.

For the fourth year in a row, the Rebels have hosted OTAs with Tallassee and Montgomery Academy and Thursday was more of the same with the teams starting in one-on-one situations then doing position work before moving to 7-on-7s and linemen competitions. They then came together to do real game situations with 11-on-11 competition.

The best part about an OTA is it fuels competition and creates an atmosphere for all three teams to get a lot of repetitions for all their players.

“It’s good especially for our older kids,” Tallassee coach Mike Battles said. “For instance, when we put our first defense out there in practice, we can put a pretty good offense against them but it’s not like playing Reeltown’s offense or Montgomery Academy’s. With this, we get quality competition and they’re having to go after quality guys. It just makes us better. It’s hard for us to duplicate this in a practice. It’s like first team on first team. It really helps us out with the speed of the game and those things like that.”

Battles’ Tigers have a veteran-laden defense and he feels good about how the defense is going to shape up. But offensively, there’s still a lot of questions and those type of OTAs help give the youngsters on offense even more time to gel with each other.

Freshman Tyler Ellis and junior Trace Ledbetter are still competing for the starting quarterback job, but Battles said more than likely, the Tigers will start the season with a ninth-grade QB under center and it’s going to take some time for him to connect with the rest of the offense. 

“Our game plan is to hopefully have our defense, because it is a bunch of veterans, to keep us in games early on and let our offense get some game experience,” Battles said. “They need to get comfortable and get used to what they’re doing. That’s the game plan.”

But the more time he gets during the summer to go against live competition, the more prepared Ellis will be. Especially with how tough Tallassee’s schedule is right from the start, there’s not going to be a lot of leisure time.

“They’re going to have to grow up real fast because we play a tough schedule,” Battles said. “We come right out of the gate and we’ve got Montgomery Catholic then we’ve got Handley then we’ve got Greenville. That’s three good ones in a row, so they’ll grow up in a hurry.”

Reeltown’s OTAs were also a good measuring stick for Tallassee and how far it has come this summer.

“This summer has been very important, as they all are, but it’s really been important to our offense and these young kids,” Battles said. “They have gotten better every time we have stepped on the field so it has been a very good summer. They’re head and shoulders above where they were back in May when we went through spring training. It’s been very important for our offense. We felt good about our defense early on but our offense has grown up a lot.” 

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.