0905-BR Stan 4.jpg

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

Stanhope Elmore’s chase for a region title saw its first setback last week when the Mustangs hit the road for the first time and struggled to slow down Pelham’s rushing attack in a defeat. It was the second loss of the season for the Mustangs and with another region game looming this week, they are hoping to see the same response the team had after its first defeat.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a problem,” Stanhope Elmore coach Brian Bradford said. “We came out flat Friday night and we knew we didn’t have our best game. All the kids are anxious to get back out there and prove that was a fluke. We’re going to come out with a chip on our shoulders.”

After the team’s first loss off the season, the Mustangs (2-2, 1-1 Class 6A Region 3) rallied back with a 32-point win over Benjamin Russell. Stanhope Elmore believes it can duplicate that kind of response but there are some things that need to be corrected heading into this week’s matchup with Chilton County.

A big part of the defeat was due to Pelham’s success on the ground, allowing two backs to record over 100 rushing yards. Stanhope Elmore prides itself in the competitiveness of its defensive line and the group is using Friday’s game as fuel for motivation heading into this week.

“We want to go out and make a big statement this week,” Bradford said. “The defensive line wants to go out and prove itself. There were a lot of things that went into it and when you have an off night against a team like that, they will make you pay.”

Chilton County (1-2, 0-1) will bring its own stout rushing offense to the table. The Tigers use a duo of running backs, Kevin Staffney and Jakobe Worthy, with both players getting their fair share of the workload.

The two backs have combined for five of the teams eight touchdowns this season and have showed off their explosive ability in the process. Staffney recorded a 95-yard run in last week’s loss to Calera while Worthy has become the reliable option in short-yardage situations as the power runner.

“They have two very good running backs,” Bradford said. “They are hard-nosed kids and they are going to get after it until the very end. They’re going to run it straight at you and make you stop it. They’re good at it.”

While Stanhope Elmore will have to come up with the right game plan to slow down the Tigers, Bradford said the team is shifting its focus back to working on itself.

“I think we got away from that last week and that was my fault,” Bradford said. “We were focused too much on stopping that triple option look and we got in our heads too much about it. We have always wanted to put the focus on ourselves and correcting our own mistakes so we’re going to do more of that this week.”

PREDICTION: Stanhope Elmore 41, Chilton County 21

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.