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Choose your weapon: Impact plaers abound as DHS faces Tallassee

Published 10:07am Thursday, September 26, 2013

After dismantling Childersburg 38-8 last Friday, the Dadeville Tigers turn their attention to another Tiger squad when they go on the road to face Tallassee.
According to DHS football coach Richard White, Class 4A, No. 5 ranked Dadeville (4-0, 3-0 in region) will have its hands full attempting to slow down Tallassee (3-1, 2-1 in region), particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
Tallassee is led by All-State running back Herman McKenzie, who ran for 237 yards and four touchdowns last week and is widely considered one of the best players in Class 4A.
“He’s very elusive,” White said of the junior runner. “He’s quick, he’s fast, and it doesn’t take much of an opening for him to get through. We have to make sure we stay responsible in our gaps.”
White added that McKenzie is most lethal when he is able to take advantage of a defense’s over pursuit.
“We have to keep guys off our linebackers and make sure that the backside doesn’t overrun the play and allow a cutback,” White said. “He can outrun you to the edge, but he likes to do that and stick his foot in the ground and go the other way. That’s where he’s dangerous.”
Tallassee coach Mike Battles readily admits his team can’t go through the motions this week as they prepare to face Dadeville Friday night at Hot O’Brien Stadium.
“We were able to rest some guys last week, but they are going to have to bow their necks this week,” said Battles. “They are very athletic. They are Dadeville. I knew about them several years ago. I kept seeing them on film (while coaching at Bibb County). It was always if we won, or if they won we’d meet. They are a very athletic team. They do a great job on offense and on defense.”
With McKenzie being the primary threat that Dadeville has to slow down, White said he wants his team to bring an aura of invincibility to the game as they continue to improve through the season.
“I think we’ve played better each week,” White said. “I’m the kind of coach that thinks I can stop anybody, and I want to stop everybody. You can’t really do that nowadays but that’s the mentality I want our defense to have.”
White said Dadeville cannot allow second chances, adding that when its high-flying offense steps onto the field, it cannot waste any possession.
“The main things this week are not letting them have long runs, getting three and outs and getting our offense on the field,” White said. “When it gets there, we have to be efficient enough to move the ball and score points. We do all of that, we’ve got a chance.”
Battles said the visiting Tigers’ spread offense won’t be an unfamiliar sight to Tallassee, but if his team can’t counteract Dadeville’s speed, the game could become a track meet.
“Their offensive line gets after the blocks, and they have an outstanding athlete (quarterback CJ Tolbert) running things,” Battles said. “But they have a lot of outstanding athletes. Their defense looks like they have 11 strong safeties out there. They are a very athletic team. But, they are well-coached, too, and what they do is hard to defend. They are going to make you defend the whole field and tackle them in space.”
Tolbert has accounted for 348 yards passing but has thrown six interceptions against just four touchdowns.
He does most of his damage on the ground where he’s rushed for nine touchdowns and 617 yards.
Besides Tolbert, Darius Miller has come along for Dadeville, asserting himself as an impact player for White’s Tigers.
“Darius has done well,” White said. “He’s added an extra dimension to our offense, and he’s hitting the hole quicker. We look for that to continue.”
Battles said he’s aware that Dadeville has scoring threats all over the field.
“This Friday night, there’s no room for error,” said Battles. “If we don’t get Tolbert or whoever they have with the ball, one step and they are gone. This won’t be as much of a shock as when they stepped on the field against Charles Henderson. That game can only help us in this game.”
While Dadeville has dominated teams with a multi-faceted ground game, White said that the offense will have to execute on all phases, citing Tallassee’s run defense as a formidable challenge.
“They do a good job against the run,” White said. “We have to do a good job of staying on our blocks and giving our runners creases to hit. Our receivers have to run good routes and any pass that gets near them, we have to catch it.”
Dadeville and Tallassee will kick off at 7 p.m. at Hot O’Brien Stadium in Tallassee.
Griffin Pritchard, managing editor of the Tallassee Times, contributed to this report.