It’s hard to find confidence in a loss but that’s exactly what Dadeville’s football team has done.
After the Tigers put up a strong effort in a rivalry dogfight against Reeltown, which is the No. 8-ranked team in Class 2A in the most recent Alabama Sports Writers Association poll, they know what just what they are made of.
“If we can get that effort and clean up some mistakes we made, we can beat anybody we play,” Dadeville coach Richard White said. “We just have to clean up the mistakes that we made — mostly little things.”
That will be the focus as the Tigers head to Southside Selma for the first Class 3A Region 3 action of the season.
Southside (0-1) is coming off a loss in its rivalry game against Selma; the Panthers fell by the same score as the Tigers (1-1) a week ago. But Southside’s loss to Selma is worse than Dadeville’s defeat against Reeltown as the Saints haven’t had a season above .500 since 2015.
But that by no means guarantees Friday night’s game will be a walk in the park for Dadeville.
Size will be the name of the game for Southside. According to White, the Panthers average about 270 pounds across their front lines.
“My little ole boys are going to have their hands full,” White said. “But hopefully we can match them speed for speed and be a little quicker on defense than they are on offense.”
Christopher Thomas will lead Southside’s offense at quarterback, and while the Panthers are a well-balanced offense, running the ball about 50% of the time and otherwise looking for the pass, possibly their biggest weapon is receiver Trendarius Carter.
“(Carter) is who they want to throw the ball to,” White said. “The biggest concern is I’ve got short cornerbacks going against 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4 receivers. The jump ball is going to kill us, so we’ll have to do a better job of getting our safeties over and getting help that way.”
Defensively, the Panthers utilized their size and typically put four linemen up front and run either a 4-3 or a 4-2.
But what the Tigers lack in size, they have in speed. Christian Nelson, who suffered a bump near the end of last week’s game against Reeltown, is back at full strength, and with Javuntae Holley running under the wildcat formation, the Tigers proved lethal.
“We threw that wrinkle at them and kinda got them off balance a little bit,” White said. “It’s something people don’t really prepare for maybe. That was successful for us. Lane (Smith) threw the ball well. There were a couple passes I wish we had back and wish we had been more patient before he delivered the ball.”
But White said he’s seen some holes in Southside’s secondary he’s hoping to exploit. With threats like Jamarion Wilkerson and Cooper Childers at receiver, the Tigers certainly can threaten with the big play at any time.
“Our main thing is we gotta run the ball, get them frustrated, throw some quick stuff and get Lane comfortable,” White said. “That’s going to open up stuff and some of the things they do in the secondary, the middle of the field could be wide open and crossing routes could be open. The main thing is just to get better every week with what we’re doing.”
While Nelson returns from his injury, Dadeville did suffer a key injury on the offensive line. Starting left guard Colin Goodwin suffered an ankle injury over the weekend and was having an MRI early this week to determine his status.
“(The offensive line) was coming together as a dang good unit,” White said. “Plus that transfers over to defense. He played a pretty good bit of defense for me when we’re rotating guys in and out. We just can’t afford to continue having these types of injuries. We don’t have enough quality depth.”