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Brian Tannehill Tallassee's Will Blocker (59) lays out to block the punt against ECHS Friday night.

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series looking at the top games on the docket for each area football team.

Rivalries and tough region contests will be the name of the game for Tallassee’s football team this season, and the good news for fans is even the games on the road aren’t too much of a hike.

Now in Class 5A Region 6, Tallassee will see a lot of familiar faces on the region docket with Elmore County and Holtville both moving up in classification. Plus, there are several old foes but it all starts off with a pair of games between top competitors who are just a hop, skip and a jump away.

Week 0 versus Reeltown Rebels

The much-awaited and long-anticipated rivalry is back.

After a 17-year hiatus, one of the most intense rivalries in the area will return to the gridiron as Tallassee hosts Reeltown to kick off the season. From 1984 through 2003, the teams met every year sans a four-year break in the early 1990s. And the return of the rivalry has been in the works since Matt Johnson took over the Rebels four seasons ago.

With the schools separated by just 8 miles, the Tigers and the Rebels have always been heated games regardless of the sport. Just this past season, the crowds at the boys basketball games stayed highly energetic throughout the entire game despite Tallassee defeating Reeltown by more than 40 points in both contests.

The football game should bring more of that, especially as the teams haven’t played in 17 years. In 16 meetings, Tallassee and Reeltown are split down the middle, but the Rebels have had the best of Tallassee in the last four contests.

Tallassee went on a four-game win streak of its own from 1996-99, and the Tigers will look to get back to their winning ways but it’s going to be tough against a Reeltown squad that went to the 2A state championship last season.

Week 4 at Elmore County Panthers

Following another short-tripped, renewed rivalry game against Wetumpka in Week 1, the Tigers kick off the Region 6 schedule in Week 3 against Sylacauga before hitting the road for Elmore County in Week 4.

Elmore County versus Tallassee is one of the most-played games in either team’s history with the teams facing off 58 times on the gridiron. They’ve played every year straight since 1971. After being non-region opponents for the last two years when Tallassee made the jump to 5A and ECHS stayed in 4A, this game will once again have playoff implications on the line as the Panthers have moved up to 5A as well.

Tallassee should feel pretty good about its chances if recent history is any indication. The Tigers have won 10 of the last 12 and the last four straight. The only times Elmore County has won in the last decade it’s been by a touchdown or less. 

Last year, Tallassee ran all over the Panthers, 41-7, and gained nearly 400 yards of offense.

Week 9 at Clay Central Volunteers

If there were a tougher way to end the 5A Region 6 schedule, fans would be hard-pressed to find it. Tallassee hits the road for one of its longest trips to face the defending 5A state champions, Clay Central, in the final region game of the season.

Not only will the Volunteers certainly boast a strong team after winning back-to-back state championships after the return of Hall of Fame coach Danny Horn, they will also be a relatively unfamiliar opponent for Tallassee. The Tigers haven’t met Clay Central since 2015 and then only twice. The teams split their previous contests with Tallassee winning a 33-20 matchup in 2015 and the Volunteers earning the victory, 31-15, the year prior.

After Tallassee missed the postseason by just one spot last year, the goal is for the playoffs to still be in contention by this point — if not already secured — and a win over a team like Clay Central would certainly be a statement for the Tigers.

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.