Class 2A: Reeltown vs. Tanner; Nix-Webster-O’Neal StadiumPublished 12:08pm Friday, November 30, 2012
The Rebels of Reeltown High School haven’t lost a football game in nearly three months dating back to their season opening loss at Class 4A Dadeville, 26-12.
Obviously, if the No. 3 Rebels (12-1) want to win a 2012 state title, they will have to keep it that way once again tonight when they host Class 2A No. 1 and state title favorite Tanner High School (12-0) in the state semifinals in Reeltown.
The following are the keys to the game tonight for Reeltown vs. Tanner:
Rebel defense with their hands full
Tanner High School has put up the most impressive offensive numbers in Class 2A this season, outscoring their opponents by a final score of 570-72 over the first 13 games of the season.
The Rattlers have scored over 60 points four times this season and over 45 points three times this season.
On average, Tanner wins games by a final score of 45-6.
With all of that being said, the Reeltown defense continues to make plays throughout the playoffs when they have needed to.
The Rebels came up with a critical goal line stand to defeat Woodland in the state quarterfinals last week and has both the experience and the right attitude on the defensive side of the ball that is needed for a state title run.
Reeltown defensive lineman Jestavia Norris continues to put up monster numbers in his senior year with 135 total tackles and 12 sacks headed into tonight’s game.
Along with Norris, sophomore defensive back Ariko Stewart has 85 tackles on the season and combined with his teammates Michael Hall-Long and Bradley McKetihen has 12 interceptions this year.
“Some of the things that Tanner has been able to do this year have really been astounding,” said Reeltown head coach Jackie O’Neal.
“We are going to have to continue to step our level up and get ready to play a well-rounded ball club.
“They played in the title game last year and we know a thing or two about playing for state titles around here so we’ll need the best game we’ve played all year.”
Feed him the rock
Reeltown senior tailback Tywone Stewart has the experience, the drive, and the athletic ability to take over a game at any moment in the Class 2A playoffs.
The senior All-State candidate seemingly had a long run whenever the Rebels needed it last week against Woodland, chalking up four touchdowns and 248 rushing yards in the 30-24 victory.
If the Rattlers can’t stop Stewart on a consistent basis, the Rebels are going to have a shot to win at the end of the game.
“It is that time of year where you give the ball to your playmakers in as many ways and times as possible,” O’Neal said.
“The biggest thing is going to be the supporting cast around (Stewart) because his success will depend on what they are able to do.”
Not in our house
Tanner knocked Reeltown out of the state playoffs in the second round last year, as the Rebels had to travel just south of Athens to take on the Rattlers.
The Rebels are tough in Nix-Webster-O’Neal Stadium, and have always been.
Reeltown hasn’t lost a game at home this year and their last home loss came to Lafayette in week seven of the 2011 season by a score of 30-29.
All-time in the series, the Rebels and Rattlers are tied at 1-1, with Reeltown having beat Tanner 34-0 in 2010.
“This is the rubber match game and it’s going to be between two teams that are ready to go at each other,” O’Neal added.
“The travel time won’t change much on the field, but it will change the things that (Tanner) has to go through for their gameday routine.
“We have a great opportunity with plenty on the line.”