Lapatrick Brown

Elmore County’s Lapatrick Brown (28) is expected to help carry the load in the backfield after the departure of DJ Patrick.

Elmore County’s football team has not played in its first competition this fall yet but this week’s season opener continues to look more difficult as it nears kickoff. Things were never going to be easy for the Panthers but there are still plenty of questions entering Week 1 while their opponents seem to have things figured out already. Elmore County will host Marbury, a team that spent Week 0 defeating No. 8 Montevallo 48-14.

“Our opponent this week has a game under their belts and they looked really good doing it,” ECHS coach Jordan Cantrell said. “We’ve been practicing for a while amongst ourselves and we have an extra week to prepare but we’re excited about it being game week. I don’t know it will benefit us but we’re ready to have some more fun.”

Marbury entered the season with plenty of question marks surrounding its own program under new coach Jason Wallace. However, the Bulldogs wasted no time in showing the rest of the state they will not be the easy win they were in 2018.

Cantrell got to see Marbury play as the Bulldogs had to move their game to Saturday afternoon due to weather. He said the Panthers couldn’t get a jump start on their game plan because they were not sure what to expect from Marbury entering the season.

“There were a lot of questions in there about what they were going to be doing,” Cantrell said. “It was beneficial for us to see them. Coach Wallace has done a tremendous job with them. That shows in every phase of the game they play and he’s really got them on a roll right now.”

Marbury had a lot of success on the ground against Montevallo but Cantrell said the Bulldogs have the capability to hit from any spot on the field. He said Marbury may be the fastest team the Panthers have faced since he came aboard and it all works behind a very disciplined offensive line.

With region play on the horizon, Cantrell wants to see his players rise to the challenge with high effort and energy. He said there should be a lot of questions answered this week so the Panthers can spend time correcting any mistakes moving into region games.

One of those questions for the Panthers is still who will be the starting quarterback. Dylan Weaver and Brody Ward entered game week still battling for the top spot but Cantrell said the coaching staff was not ready to commit to one of them at this point.

“We’ll see what happens,” Cantrell said “It’s not necessarily hiding things; we’re just trying to make a decision on it. We’re looking for a player for us that can direct our offense and take charge of our team. Both of the guys we have we feel can do that but we’re still deciding.”

Elmore County will get to play its season opener at home for the first time since 2016 and Cantrell said he know that will bring some extra excitement to the players. The Panthers did not need their home field when they knocked off Marbury 21-0 last year but they do expect this  game to play out in the same way.

“Both teams are completely different this year and our kids know that,” Cantrell said. “There’s no way we’re going to take our opponent lightly and I don’t expect Marbury too either. We’re going to do what we do and have the mindset of getting after it.”

PREDICTION: Marbury 30, Elmore County 14

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.