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Lizi Arbogast / The Outlook Dadeville's Cooper Childers (4) evades a tackle from Reeltonw's Tre Tre Hughley.

Dadeville coach Richard White was smiling from ear to ear after Thursday night’s football game.

Just from seeing his face, it’d be easy to think the Tigers got the revenge they were looking for against county rival Reeltown. But that wasn’t the case.

The Rebels used every ounce of energy to come out with a 28-20 victory, but the reason White’s smile was so wide was because of the sheer effort his team displayed against a top-10 ranked squad.

“The kids played hard,” Dadeville coach Richard White said. “We had a good game plan going in. They ran one back, then we ran one back; it was a heckuva football game. I’m proud of my kids because I didn’t know what we had. Even after last week, that didn’t tell me what I had. I know what I have now. I have a heckuva football team, and we’re going to be OK.”

Reeltown turned the tides for good to start the third quarter. On the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Iverson Hooks scrambled out of the backfield and juked and jived his way in for a 65-yard touchdown. That gave the Rebels a 28-14 lead, and although the Tigers immediately answered, it ultimately was the final nail in Dadeville’s coffin.

“That (third-quarter touchdown) was huge,” Reeltown coach Matt Johnson said. “Iverson, that’s what he brings to the table. Any given play, if you give him a seam, he’s just as fast as any of our backs other than Cameron (Faison). If you don’t account for him and we call the play right, he can take it to the house.”

After Dadeville responded with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Lane Smith to Jamarion Wilkerson to pull within one score, the Rebels went back to their bread and butter: The two-tight wishbone.

They used that the rest of the game to start eating the clock, including a 7:30 drive that eventually iced the game when Reeltown’s Jay Corbitt converted a third-down attempt with under two minutes remaining.

Rushing was the name of the game for the Rebels, who racked up nearly 300 yards on the ground. Hooks led the way with 103, mostly coming from his 65-yard score, and Faison followed with 80. Scooter Brooks added a nice No. 2 punch to Faison with 57 rushing yards.

“They had some long kids in the secondary so we had to establish a run and do some smoke and mirrors with our formations,” Johnson said. “But then when it came down to it, we felt like we were tired, we were beat up, and they were tired, they were beat up. We had to get in a two-tight wishbone and see who wanted it more. But we had to earn every single yard we got.”

Dadeville did have the offensive weapons to match Reeltown, but most of the Tigers’ success came once again with big plays. Dadeville quarterback Lane Smith connected with Jamarion Wilkerson five times for 105 yards and one touchdown.

The Tigers also ran quite a bit out of the wildcat formation and that seemed to help running backs Javuntae Holley and Christian Nelson.

“We put that in,” White said. “We got two (wildcat) formations, but we only ran one (Thursday night). It helps us out and it’s kind of a change of pace. It gets our speed back there in the backfield.”

But once Reeltown’s defense settled in after the first half, it was hard for the Tigers to get much going offensively.

Dadeville also got touchdowns from Holley, who scored from 1 yard out on the first possession, and Christian Nelson scored a 78-yard kickoff return. For Reeltown, Hooks scored twice, Brooks scored once and Tyvon Waver scored once. All but one of the Rebels’ touchdowns were 1-yard scores.

Regardless of who won or lost, Thursday’s game certainly reignited the Dadeville-Reeltown rivalry as both fan bases were on their toes for the entire 48 minutes.

“I love this stuff; this is football,” Johnson said. “I love adversity. Bring it on. We need it right now more than we do in just a few weeks, and that’s a good football team. If they keep doing what they did (Thursday), they’re going to win a lot of ballgames.”

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.