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Brian Tannehill WR Jaleel Johnson makes a leaping grab for Wetumpkas first score of the game against Selma.

After two consecutive seasons with deep playoff runs, Wetumpka is in an unfamiliar position as it starts the postseason on the road as one of the underdogs in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs. Wetumpka travels north to face Bessemer City on Friday night as the two programs will meet for the first time ever and battle for a spot in the final 16.

“The regular season counts but now all of that is irrelevant,” Wetumpka coach Tim Perry said. “What is relevant is who is playing well right now. Everything we have gone through this year has prepared us for this.”

Wetumpka (5-5) had its worst regular season since 2015 but it came at the hands of several good opponents. Of the 10 teams on the schedule, eight made it to the postseason including all of the non-region opponents. 

Wetumpka’s opponents combined for a 64-35 record in the regular season which is the highest winning percentage for any 6A playoff team’s opponents. Perry also said having five games on the road to start the season has prepared the Indians to play on the road in any environment.

“Those are the kind of things that help us be ready for this situation,” Perry said. “We’re young but we’ve had a lot of guys in this situation before so I think that experience will be helpful. And we have played some really good teams so far this season.”

Wetumpka is coming off a bye week which it used to focus on improving itself but Perry said the coaching staff did get some work done to prepare for Bessemer City.

“We wanted to get away from contact a little bit and work on some of the things we needed to improve,” Perry said. “We got some energy back and we got some prep work in for this week. We installed some new things and we will transition more into that this week in practice.”

Bessemer City (8-2) rose as high as No. 7 in the Alabama Sports Writers Association poll this season but the Tigers are now unranked after dropping two of their final four games. They are coming off a 14-13 loss at Minor but Perry said the Tigers are still playing some good football at the right time of the year.

The Tigers are undefeated in four games at home, allowing 7.8 points per game in those wins. Bessemer City’s success starts with its defense as it has allowed just 13.6 ppg this season including three shutouts and six teams held in single digits.

“They have a great combination of size and speed which makes it hard for teams to move the ball against them,” Perry said. “They will use a lot of seven or eight man blitzes which can be a challenge for a spread offense to pick up. You don’t see that a lot so it can be tough to prepare for.”

The Tigers average only 23.1 ppg but they run a multiple offense which can be tough for opponents to defend. It starts with dual-threat quarterback Rishard Densmore, who is under the direction of new coach and former Alabama quarterback Andrew Zow.

“Any time you have a dual-threat quarterback that can escape and make big plays, that can cause problems,” Perry said. “They can hit you at any time.”

PREDICTION: Wetumpka 23, Bessemer City 16

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.