Rebels on the mend as Lafayette loomsPublished 12:07pm Thursday, October 24, 2013
By Willie G. Moseley/Tallassee Tribune News Editor
The fall break week for Tallapoosa County schools didn’t afford high school football any sort of reprieve, and Reeltown coach Jackie O’Neal’s schedule was exemplar.
O’Neal and his assistants had their young charges firmly entrenched in a practice session on Tuesday morning as they prepared for their final regional game against Lafayette on Friday.
The Rebels received a big boost in their playoff aspirations when they defeated Isabella the previous Friday 19-0 in a homecoming victory that enhanced their chances for a home game in the first round of the playoffs.
Isabell previously had only one defeat, which happened to be a regional loss to Lanett.
However, O’Neal was of the opinion that the win wasn’t a “psychological” victory.
“We expected to play well,” the veteran coach said. “It wasn’t ‘psychological’ for us, because we expect to play well every week. That’s what was so disappointing about our performance the previous week (against Montgomery Academy). We don’t worry about whether a team is ranked ahead of us. We’re going to be the team to beat; we don’t concentrate on rankings, because sportswriters don’t play games, football players do.”
Undefeated Lanett remains in the driver’s seat in Class 2A, Region 5.
The loss by Isabella gives the Mustangs two area losses, just like Reeltown and Montgomery Academy.
Isabella hosts Montgomery Academy this Friday, which should fine-tune the post-season picture even more.
“If they beat Montgomery Academy, that’ll give all three of us two region losses, and we’ll have to go to a tiebreaker,” said O’Neal. “There’s still an outside chance that we can get a home game, but the main thing is always getting in the playoffs. I’ve seen other teams that had a lot of kids that had been injured all year, and they got their kids back in time for the playoffs and did extremely well. That sounds like us this year.”
A combination of know-your-opponent preparation and fewer injuries helped the Rebels to last week’s win, and O’Neal figures to use the same method against Lafayette this week.
The Bulldogs have one win so far this season, but could still end up in a spoiler role.
“Our kids came out and played exceptionally well last week,” O’Neal said. “We executed extremely well, but we’ve still got a lot of things to work on.”
The Rebels’ injured players have been gradually getting healthy, and “70 to 80 percent of the injured guys” had returned to the team, according to O’Neal.
“The played a little last week, with some limited duty on some while others were able to play the entire game,” he said of formerly injured team members. “If we get most of them back and play like we’re capable of playing, I think we’ll do alright.”
The Lafayette contest at Nix-Webster-O’Neal Stadium will be Senior Night for RHS.