With a new season comes new challenges.
This is particularly the case with Reeltown as it makes the move from Class 2A to 3A. Aside from that, the coronavirus pandemic has brought its own set of challenges the Rebels will have to overcome.
Possibly more than any other season, players and fans are excited for football to begin, and Rebel fans are ready to see the heights that seem achievable under coach Matt Johnson. The community is putting all its eggs in the coach’s basket hoping and believing Johnson is capable of getting the Rebels back to the state championship game.
The 2020 schedule is going to be a tough one for Reeltown with four of the seven regional teams making it to the playoffs last season. With the bump up in classification, the Rebels also get a bump in responsibility as old rivalries are renewed and longstanding rivalries have more on the line than ever.
Week 1 at Tallassee
The Rebels start off the season traveling a meager 10 miles to Tallassee to renew their rivalry with the Tigers. The Rebels and Tigers have a long tradition of playing each other but when Reeltown moved down to 2A, the rivalry took a hiatus for nearly 20 years.
Although Reeltown has risen to prominence in the last couple years and Tallassee has slightly fallen from the powerhouse program it once was, this game is going to be as competitive a game fans will see this year. Because this is a longtime rivalry and the teams are so close in proximity, don’t be surprised to see J.E. “Hot” O’Brien Stadium to be packed that opening Thursday night. That being said, you’re gonna need your popcorn and mask for this one.
The rivalry is currently even when it comes to wins and losses; Reeltown won the last meeting, 16-13.
Week 4 vs. Montgomery Catholic
Reeltown hosts Montgomery Catholic in its fourth week, which will potentially be one of the biggest tests the Rebel program has faced under Johnson’s reign.
Montgomery Catholic is coming off an undefeated season in which it won 12 straight before losing in the playoffs to UMS-Wright, which became state champions. Catholic The Knights 37 points per game last season while holding their opponents to only 10. Reeltown was equally as dominant to its opponents while setting a team record for points scored in a season.
Neither experience nor talent will be lacking on the field that Friday night. The game may come down to who was a more prepared and who wanted it more.
Week 8 vs. Dadeville
Normally the fans in the area are treated early on to the rivalry that is Reeltown versus Dadeville. But with Reeltown’s move up in classification, fans will have to wait for this barn burner.
Last year Dadeville proved to be one of Reeltown’s biggest tests for the season, but luckily for the Rebels they pulled out a 28-20 win by the skin of their teeth.
Dadeville, like Reeltown, has its own set of challenges to overcome, like learning new coach Roger McDonald’s playbook during a pandemic.
Last season the game looked like two heavyweight programs going for gold, but after that game both programs took a different turn. Reeltown gained momentum it rode all the way to the state championship game while Dadeville limped its way to the finish line the best it could and never seemed the same after the bout with the Rebels.
The rivalry between these two programs has always meant something; fans can feel it the moment they arrive at the game. But now that the game is moved to near the end of the season, the significance takes on a whole new meaning.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility these teams could take a playoff spot from each other or help keep another out of the playoffs; in fact it’s probable. Reeltown has won the last two meetings between the two schools, but Dadeville took the spoils home nine out of 10 times prior to that.