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Tigers return to the field this week

By Michael Butler

It goes without saying, 2020 has been a year like none other. It has carried over to the football field in a season of forfeits.

Tallassee was hit with a positvie COVID case on Oct. 8 that cost them two games.

"That Thursday was tough," THS head coach Mike Battles said of hearing the news just hours before the scheduled game at Talladega. "I’ve always prided myself in knowing what to say. I didn’t know what to say."

With a 14-day quaranine, the Tigers foreited its next two region games vs. Talladega and Holtville. It left them with Friday night's game at Clay Central and Carroll of Ozark the following Friday to close out the regular season slate. But, Carroll of Ozark reported a COVID case over the weekend and canceled its trip to Tallassee, which had become the Tigers' rescheduled date for homecoming.

"I know there are some teams around here," said Battles, "one is Andalusia. Carroll was their week nine game and had to forfeit. They've got an open date. There are some other schools. We've got to have a home game. It's a game of no record. We're going to play one. We owe it to our seniors."

Tallassee will be cleared to return to practice on Wednesday.

"Clay Central is a heck of a football team, the two-time defending state champ. You don’t ever want to play somebody with two days of preparation, especially somebody as good as them."

This week's matchup in Lineville still has playoff implications.

"There are some crazy scenarios, which happen every Friday night. There’s an outside possibility. We’ll have to do our part and have help."

A Tallassee win coupled with an Elmore County win over Talladega would get the Tigers in the post-season for the first time since 2017.

The timing of the forfeitures could not have been worse with an opportunity to clinch a playoff berth with a win at Talladega two weeks back. Other coaches understand the circumstances and have reached out to Battles, including former Tallassee coach Mark Rose. Rose resigned at Russell County citing issues with the AHSAA's lack of COVID testing.

"Mark and I have spoken on several occasions," Battles noted. "Mark is very convicted in his belief that we shouldn’t be playing without testing. He said what he believed and stood by what he believed."

Tallassee has played Clay Central twice. The Volunteers beat the Tigers 33-20 in 2015. Tallassee won 31-15 in its trip to Lineville in 2014.

Central of Clay County is in its 9th year of football since consolidating the Clay County and Lineville programs in 2012. Tallassee has never played Clay County but met Lineville in 1944 and won 72-7 during J. E. "Hot" O'Brien's 57-game unbeaten streak.

Central Coach Danny Horn has won eight state championships overall, the last two in Class 5A at Clay Central. Six of his titles were at Clay County where he set the state's longest win streak of 55 straight games from 1994-97.

Tickets may be purchased through GoFan. Kickoff Friday will be at 7 p.m. 1300 WTLS/106.5 FM will broadcast live at 6 p.m. with the simulcast on the TuneIn app. Live video streaming will be on Tallassee Times TV through YouTube and Spectrum Channel 340.