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Caleb Turrentine / The Herald Stanhope Elmore’s Chase Eddings is brought down after a catch by Opelika’s Kevin Lilly (33) and Ty Barnett (12).

Stanhope Elmore got confirmation Wednesday its season opening game against Selma was to be canceled and the Mustangs did not waste any time in replacing that game with a new opponent. Coach Brian Bradford confirmed Stanhope Elmore will host Opelika for the second straight season, this time in a non-region battle.

"It took 24 hours," Bradford said. "We put it out on social media that we needed a game and we had people calling... Opelika is a great team and they always play great football. I'm good friends with coach (Eric) Speakman and we have played them the last two years. It seemed like a logical choice and it's a good early test. You can't get better without playing the best competition."

Opelika was ranked No. 6 in the Alabama Sports Writers Association preseason rankings so it is expected to be another challenge right out of the gates for Stanhope Elmore.

Opelika has gotten the best of the Mustangs in each of the last two seasons, handing them their only region losses each year and ending Stanhope Elmore's region title chances in both cases. The Bulldogs outscored the Mustangs 97-35 over those two games and Bradford said there is some extra motivation with Opelika back on the schedule.

"Absolutely," Bradford said. "We don't feel like we played out best games against them the last two years. We have felt like we're better than that and so we definitely want to play them again."

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.