The road to Round 3Published 3:28pm Wednesday, November 14, 2012
The Reeltown Rebels have won 10 straight games this season and are ranked No. 3 in Class 2A headed into Friday nights game at Sheffield High School, located just west of Muscle Shoals.
Sheffield (5-5) defeated North Sand Mountain in the first round of the playoffs last week on the road, while the Rebels (10-1) will make the long trek up to northwest Alabama for the second straight season.
Below are the keys to the game between Reeltown and Sheffield:
The brothers, Stewart
The duo of Reeltown runningbacks and brothers in senior Tywone Stewart and sophomore Ariko Stewart have been the focal point of the Rebels on the offensive side of the ball, and at times defensive side, all season long.
The older Stewart, Tywone, has rushed for 1,326 yards on 158 carries and 19 total touchdowns for the Rebels, including 121 yards on 19 carries and four total touchdowns last week in the playoffs vs. Vincent.
2012 marks the third straight season that Tywone has played in the state playoffs, as the runningback has been a starter in the backfield for Reeltown since his sophomore season in 2010.
Speaking of contributing as a sophomore, Ariko has been no slouch out of the backfield with his brother as well.
The younger Stewart has rushed for 890 yards on 94 carries and 11 total touchdowns for the Rebel offense that is averaging 278 rushing yards per game.
How the Stewart brothers go is how the Rebels go offensively and they’ll need to keep churning out yards Friday.
“There were times early in the season when Ariko was having more success then Tywone and Tywone was trying too hard to make plays,” said Reeltown head coach Jackie O’Neal.
“Now I think what we are starting to see is that they are feeding off of eachother and focused on making themselves better.
“Once they both realized what they could do, we have been a better team.”
Sheffield D vs. Reeltown O
Like every opponent that ever plays Reeltown, Sheffield will have to stop the run if they want to have a shot to pull off the upset Friday night.
The Bulldogs allow 23.5 points per game this season, including 35 or more in three of their five losses.
The Reeltown offense continues to click and more importantly chew up clock due to their running attack to the tune of an average of 32 points per game an have not scored less than 28 points in their last eight games.
“Sheffield has played some quality teams this year and it is going to be essential for us to play good defense from here on out in the playoffs,” O’Neal said.
“If we play stout defensively, we will be able to win the field position game and set up our offense in short fields.
“In the playoffs, having short field with a run-based offense is a big advantage.”
The road up North
Last years trip up to North Alabama didn’t turn out so well for Reeltown, the Rebels lost to Tanner High School in the second round by a score of 37-14.
Tanner went on to play for the Class 2A state title last season.
The Rebels will have to put the distraction of the long bus ride behind them and focus on the task at hand Friday night.
Reeltown has only one loss on the road this season and it came in the first week at Dadeville.
Winning on the road is essential to being a state championship caliber team and the Rebels have already proven that they can do that, Friday night should be another example of how this 2012 Reeltown team handles a different environment.
“The biggest thing is getting the kids acclimated to the travel and take away any distractions so that when we get off the bus, we are ready to go play a good football game,” O’Neal added.
“We aren’t going to make any excuses about having to travel and do this and that.
“The kids can rest all weekend long, but Friday night we are going up there to win a football game and we’re going to get off the bus with only that on our minds.”