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Cliff Williams / The Tribune Elmore County’s Jackson Mann tries to avoid the tackle of Tallassee’s Luke Burdette.

For the first time since 2011, the Elmore County football team is playing in the postseason.

Elmore County, which finished the regular season with a 7-3 record and the No. 4 seed in its region, hits the road on Friday night to play Demopolis (9-1).

The Panthers are in the midst of their best season in recent history as their seven wins are the most in a season since 2008.

“It’s exciting for sure,” head coach Kyle Caldwell said. “There’s a lot of history at this school and some peopled’t aren't aware of it. We’re the only school in the county who has won a state championship in football, so there’s a lot of excitement and positivity. The boys have worked hard all year and they’re ready to come to work this week and play their hearts out on Friday night.”

Demopolis has been nearly unstoppable this season. After dropping a Week 2 matchup to Jackson, 43-20, the Tigers have reeled off eight wins in a row to wrap up the regular season.

During that eight-game win streak, they’ve outscored their eight opponents 430-71. They’ve shut out three opponents during that span, and they’ve held four teams to six points or less.

On offense, they’ve scored under 48 points only one time and they’ve scored 60 or more points three times, including 74 points in a blowout win.

Demopolis and Elmore County has three common opponents and both teams went 3-0 against them. Those teams are Holtville, Jemison, and Marbury. Demopolis outscored the three teams 182-38 while Elmore County outscored them 158-77.

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“They’re a really good team,” Caldwell said. “They’re 9-1 for a reason. They’ve dominated their region and that’s what they expect to do. We’ve played three teams from that region as well, so we can kind of compare ourselves a little bit and see where we stand. They’re very good offensively.”

Demopolis’ offense is averaging 49.1 points per game. They have two very good running backs - Kelvin Rowser and Keishawn Rowser. The two Rowsers have combined for 1,656 yards and 37 touchdowns this year.
 Quarterback Kevin McElroy runs the offense, however, and he’s had a stellar junior season. The star has completed 113 of 184 passes for 1,584 yards, 16 touchdowns, and only four interceptions. He’s a threat on the ground as well as he has 424 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

“They have two good running backs who are big and strong and kind of remind me of Beauregard’s running backs, but their quarterback is their best player,” Caldwell said. “He’s undersized, but he doesn’t play like it. He kind of plays like I did when I was in school. He’s very quick and smart and gets rid of the ball on time with a quick release. He gets his yards.”

On defense, they allow only 13 points per game and only 8.8 points per game over their last eight games. Elmore County’s offense, on the other hand, is averaging 36 points per game this season and has gotten better and better as the year as gone on.

Over the last two weeks, the Panthers have scored 63 and 60 points, respectively, as they’ve blown out both Holtville and Jemison. That’s mostly from quarterback Payton Stephenson, who has scored 11 total touchdowns during that span.

He’s thrown six touchdowns and rushed for another five in those games. As good as Demopolis’ defense is, Elmore County’s offense is hot. And when teams get hot, anything can happen in the playoffs.

“They play a little bit of a different front than what we’ve seen, but I’m familiar with what they’re running with my experience at Chelsea,” Caldwell said. “That’s helped me game plan a little. … We didn’t want our offense to hit a hot streak in the middle of the season. We really wanted to pick it up around Week 7 and on, and carry it onto the playoffs. Hopefully we can continue on that streak and keep the offense hot.”