1003-We2 7.jpg

Caleb Turrentine / Tallapoosa Publishers Wetumpka’s Justin Crumbaugh (35) runs behind blocks from Ben Barker (55) and Jacobie Jenkins (65).

For the first time this season, Wetumpka has seen two consecutive losses recorded on its schedule. After losing control of its own destiny in the region title race with last week’s loss to Pelham, Wetumpka hopes to get back to .500 as it travels to Chilton County this week in search of a win that could secure the team’s spot in the postseason.

“We don’t put all of this work into it not to be successful,” Wetumpka coach Tim Perry said. “That’s what drives all of us. We’re competitive so the best thing we can do is to get back into it. We want to learn from our mistakes and get back on the field.”

Wetumpka (3-4, 2-1 Class 6A Region 3) not only has hopes of securing a spot in the postseason but also hosting a first-round game and a win this week would be a big step toward both those goals. Wetumpka can clinch a spot in the playoffs with a win against Chilton County and a Calera win over Helena. Those region standing implications will play a big role in keeping Wetumpka motivated this week.

“Our season isn’t over and we have a lot to play for,” Perry said. “We are still in a position to have a chance to host a playoff game. There’s no sense in feeling sorry for ourselves. You have to put it behind you and we have a game to get ready for.”

Chilton County (1-5, 0-3) enters the week on a losing streak of its own, dropping four straight games including all of its region games. The Tigers had to forfeit last week’s game against Helena due to COVID-19 concerns but are set to return to competition this week.

In their last game on the field, the Tigers fell behind Shelby County by four touchdowns but put together a strong fourth-quarter comeback only to fall just short in a 27-21 defeat.

“Offensively, they have some very good athletes and some really good skill players,” Perry said. “Anytime in a game against really good athletes, all it takes is a couple of plays for them to gain some confidence. Any team at this level can present a challenge.”

Quarterback Sam Smith hit three different receivers for touchdowns in the fourth quarter of that game and has been the bright spot on Chilton County’s offense this season. Smith has connected with several different receivers with Kevin Staffney and Jakeveon Bolding both recording 100-yard games this season.

Wetumpka’s offense will have to find a way to counter without a key weapon in its backfield as starting running back Stone Minnifield is out after suffering a leg injury last week. Jaedyn Peterson and Justin Crumbaugh are expected to see their workload increase moving forward while freshman back Michael Dillard could be introduced as another option on the ground.

“Anytime you lose a payer of Stone’s caliber, a leader and a guy everyone on the team admires and respects, it makes it tough,” Perry said. “Stone’s attitude (Saturday) was to tell me he was all right and he was going to be back better than he was. If that’s his attitude, the rest of us need to follow his lead and work hard to get better… This is part of being a team and being a family. When one sustains an injury, everyone else has to pick up the slack.”

It will be a short week to prepare as the game has been moved to Thursday due to the risk of heavy rain across the state Friday night.

PREDICTION: Wetumpka 38, Chilton County 21

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.