Battles previews '22 season
By Michael Butler
There was a dynasty in high school football in the 1940s in Tallassee, Ala. From 1941-47, John Edward O'Brien's THS teams rode a 57-game unbeaten streak. In all, the Tigers picked up 75 victories in the decade with an 86 percent win percentage.
While nothing has rivaled such a run as in the 40s, the program's most wins in a decade since was the most recent 2010s. Tallassee won 73 games from 2010-'19 under three different coaches; Rodney Dollar, Jared Jones and Mike Battles.
Battles was at the helm for eight of those seasons. Now he enters his 11th year as Tallassee's head coach - the longest tenure of any coach since O'Brien.
Tallassee is coming off a region championship in 2021 with a 7-3 record, the best season since a 10-2 mark in 2017.
"I think everybody understands what their roles are," said Battles, "and what it takes to win."
There were 19 seniors on last year's roster leaving some big holes to fill for 2022.
"We're all going to have dual roles. We're going to try and rest people at times. We're trying to create depth."
With that being said, there may be more platoon players than the norm with just 49 players on the varsity roster. Guys like junior Cade Everson and seniors DJ Leonard and Micah Cole will be in the mix on both sides of the ball. You might even see another 12th grader and three-year starter at quarterback Tyler Ellis line up some at linebacker.
Ellis and Cole are college prospects.
"I think Tyler can play at the next level," Battles said. "Micah is a D-I prospect."
Cole's father Kerry was a college player at Alabama A&M.
"Somebody's going to get a gem. He's a sure 'nuf can't miss," said Battles of the lineman. "He whooped everybody in summer camps. He's a great kid with the grades, a great family and he's tough as nails."
Battles had high praise for Everson as well.
"His speed reminds me of Brandon Baynes," he said.
The leader on the field will be Luke Burdette at outside linebacker.
"He's the alpha dog," said Battles. "His motor is 110 percent. He's a guy everybody looks to."
Class 5A/Region 4 has some slight changes. There are six total teams this year, down from seven. Talladega and Holtville are out. Valley moves in to join Tallassee, Beauregard, Clay Central, Sylacauga and Elmore County.
"Tiger Night" will showcase all teams from the youth level to varsity at J. E. "Hot" O'Brien Stadium on Friday, Aug. 12 starting at 5 p.m. Admission is $5.
The Tigers open the season against Reeltown at O'Brien Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 18.
Aug. 18 Reeltown
Aug. 26 at BT Washington
Sept. 2 Clay Central
Sept. 9 at Beauregard
Sept. 16 Marbury
Sept. 23 at Chilton County
Sept. 30 at Elmore County
Oct. 7 Valley (Homecoming)
Oct. 14 Sylacauga (Senior Night)
Oct. 28 at Holtville
Nov. 4 Playoffs