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Caleb Turrentine / Tallapoosa Publishers Benjamin Russell’s Kadarious Marbury (6) is taken down by Stanhope Elmore’s Martin Toby (18) and Carter Harrison (25).

Next week’s home game against Wetumpka has been circled on the calendar for Stanhope Elmore fans since this season’s schedule was released. The rivalry is slated for the final region game of the year for both teams and there is expected to be a lot on the line when it comes to region implications.

However, before the Mustangs get to that game, they have another big region matchup to get ready for as they are set to travel to Helena this week. The Huskies are another team that stands in the way of Stanhope Elmore clinching a home playoff game and the Mustangs know they cannot overlook this game.

“The kids know there is a lot at stake this game so it should be a really good exciting because Helena is pretty good,” Stanhope Elmore coach Brian Bradford said. “They are a good team and this is a region game. We want to keep everything in our own hands. The kids are looking forward to next week but they are totally focused on this one.”

Stanhope Elmore (4-3, 3-1 Class 6A Region 3) is coming off a bye week after seven straight weeks of games to open the season. The Mustangs are still searching for their first pair of consecutive wins this season and they hope the extra time can help them get there.

“We’re just trying to get healthy,” Bradford said. “We wanted to let the kids unwind a little bit because it’s been such a long season. There has been a lot of stress involved so to give them some time off and let them relax, we think that should pay off.”

Helena (4-4, 3-2) wraps up region play this week after securing a playoff spot last week with a win over Calera. It was the Huskies’ first game in four weeks due to a pair of forfeit losses and one forfeit win which provides some challenges for the Mustangs to prepare for a team with just one game in the last month.

“You have to make sure who is playing and who is not but that plays in for everybody this year,” Bradford said. “Each game is a mystery in its own.”

In last week’s win, Helena relied heavily on its rushing attack as it racked up 280 yards on 50 carries while completing just three passes. Kobe Hughes led the way with 202 yards and a touchdown.

“They want to run the football and they’re very physical,” Bradford said. “They’re going to do what they do and play their game by trying to impose their will on you. They are going to try to run right at you and make you stop it.

PREDICTION: Stanhope Elmore 31, Helena 21

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.