Stanhope at Prattville

File / The Herald Tray Duncan (24) and the Mustangs are looking to grab the program’s first win in Prattville since 1981.

For the last six seasons, Prattville has come out of its matchup against Stanhope Elmore with bragging rights for the year. Despite not being in the same region or even the same classification, both programs always have this game circled and they will meet again Friday night in Prattville.

“These weeks are always fun,” Stanhope coach Brian Bradford said. “You don’t have to get on the kids for effort this week. There’s always an extra bounce this week. The kids and the coaches are just a little more excited. If you can’t get up for a game like this, there’s something wrong with you. We love being in these types of environment.”

The rivalry has been played every year since 1990 with the Lions dominating the series during that time. Prattville has won 24 of the last 29 games and have not lost to Stanhope at home since 1981.

Stanhope had a good chance to get one back on its side last season but a last-second field goal gave the Lions a 19-16 victory. However, Bradford said the Mustangs are not focused on the current streak but finding a way to start a new one.

“I don’t focus on that because that stuff happened in the past,” Bradford said. “They’re a whole different team and we’re a whole different team from last year. That’s always in the back of your mind but we’re a new team so we don’t care too much about the past.”

The Mustangs (1-0) are not going to get a win without a strong challenge from the Lions. Prattville started the season with a 39-0 victory against Foley and is closing in on the top 10 in Class 7A.

“They’ve got great coaches; they’ve got great talent; they’re Prattville,” Bradford said. “Even with they were down, they’re still good. Coach (Caleb) Ross does a great job wherever he is at and they have great athletes on both sides of the football so when you go to play them, you have to be on top of your game.”

Prattville played well on both sides against Foley but the Lions did have standouts. Taylor Thompson surpassed 100 receiving yards and added a touchdown while Kendrick Rogers had a kickoff return touchdown.

On defense, Prattville limited Foley to just 34 yards and forced one turnover.

“They almost have no weaknesses,” Bradford said. “They have an outstanding quarterback with great running backs and receivers. Everybody on defense is good; they’ve got a good offensive line. They’re just solid everywhere.”

Stanhope’s first game was affected by a heavy dose of rain so the coaching staff is still waiting to get a good look at its team. The Mustangs are going into Week 1 with the excitement of the first week plus an extra experience under their belts.

“We didn’t get to do a normal game routine,” Bradford said. “We couldn’t throw the ball the way we wanted to do so we were really one dimensional and we didn’t get to see the offense play the way we wanted to.”

New quarterback Jalen Walker took most of the first-team snaps during the offseason but Andrew Rines was called on against Chilton County and is expected to start against Prattville.

“We only threw 12 passes on Friday night I think,” Bradford said. “We definitely want to throw the ball around more. Andrew is a very good quarterback so we want him to throw the ball, just with the situation the other night, we couldn’t do it.”

Bradford said they will need a more balanced offense to have a chance to beat Prattville. Stanhope has an opportunity to start 2-0 for the first time since 2012 so the Mustangs are hoping a rivalry win can spring them for the rest of the season.

“Any time you get a chance to beat a team like Prattville, that’s awesome,” Bradford said. “If you can win a game like that, it’s momentum for the rest of the year. That’s going to give you confidence.”

PREDICTION: Prattville 21, Stanhope Elmore 20

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.