News Sports Opinion Photos Social Classified Obits Contact
Johnson (left) and Battles

The wait is over... It's game week

By Michael Butler

The stage is set. It's finally game week.

The wait for the 2020 football kickoff may have seemed long, but how about the wait for this game - Reeltown vs. Tallassee. The two programs will meet once again on Thursday night at 7 at J. E. "Hot" O'Brien Stadium. The last time the two programs played was 2003 in Reeltown.

The Rebels won 16-13 at what was Nix-Webster Stadium. Reeltown's coach was Jackie O'Neal. His name has since been added to marquee. His successor, a former player in Matt Johnson, enters his fifth season following two hall-of-famers.

Mike Battles goes into year nine at Tallassee, three coaches removed since the last meeting 17 years ago when Phil Lindsey was over the Tigers' program.

After a rift between the two administrations including Lindsey and O'Neal, O'Neal vowed that the game would not be played again. Bygones are now bygones.

The series is dead even. Each team has won eight times. Reeltown has won four straight.

The rivalry began in 1984 with Tallassee winning 36-21 at O'Brien Stadium. Former Tallassee coach Duane Webster was then at Reeltown after a stint at THS in the early 1970s. He won the next year 35-0, which remains the largest margin of victory to date in this series.

There have been two stoppages in the 36 years since the first game. The first hiatus was from 1991-96.

Battles and Johnson passed the olive branch and have been working together in recent years with off-season camps.

"We've done some things together to try and break the ice," Johnson said back when talks of playing the game again resumed. "I don't know if the problem was ever on the field anyway. What's on the field with us has been great."

Battles concurred.

"There's no issue with me and coach Johnson. I know people want to see us play. Hopefully, we'll get out there and play a good football game. The loser will have 364 days to live with it."

THS Coach Mike Battles

The two coaches addressed the media at a Super Bowl-like press conference last Monday at the Mt. Vernon Theatre. The venue is serving as the site for the "Bridging the Gap" documentary. The production by Myron Williams of Football Film Fanatics is being shown throughout game week.

At the event, the "Battle of the Tallapoosa" trophy was unveiled. Each year, the final score will be inscribed on the prize for the winning team to display.

"This is my first time at anything like this," Battles said. "It's exciting. Myron has done a good job professionally putting this together. This is big time."

Sometimes games of an anticipated magnitude do not live up to the hype. Battles thinks this game will.

"They're going to be ready. We'll be ready. The kids are excited."

Due to health and safety concerns with COVID-19, a cap of 2,200 tickets were sold.

"We're going to have as many as the pandemic will allow," Battles said.

Tickets were distributed equally at 1,100 per school. No tickets will be sold at the gate.

"We're looking forward to it," Johnson said. "With the hoops that we've had to go through to get to this point, we're just excited to get out there on the football field.

"You don't have to add any motivation to this one. It's the first game of the year. It's the first game in the midst of everything that's going on. It's the first game against Tallassee in a long time. It's an all around build up. Our kids are ready to play. Tallassee's kids are ready to play."

Reeltown went 13-2 last season and finished as the state runner-up in Class 2A. The Rebels are moving up to 3A this year. Tallassee was 5-4 in 2019 and remains in Class 5A.

1300 WTLS/106.5 FM will broadcast live with a simulcats on Spectrum Channel 340 and the TuneIn app. Live video streaming and archived footage will be on Tallassee Times TV through YouTube. Air time is 6 p.m.

THS Roster
Reeltown Roster
Mike Battles Video
Matt Johnson Video
Film of 1984 Game

*Game Notes: "Battle of the Tallapoosa" (17th meeting)

  • Reeltown (13-2) at Tallassee (5-4). First meeting since 2003 at Reeltown (Reeltown 16-13). Rebels have won four straight.  Rivalry tied 8-8. Tallassee won first meeting ever in 1984, 36-21.
  • Reeltown (13-2) at Tallassee (5-4).  First meeting since 2003 at Reeltown (Reeltown 16-13). Rebels have won four straight. Rivalry tied 8-8. Tallassee won first meeting ever in 1984, 36-21.
  • Tallassee ended 2019 season with 41-7 win over Elmore County. Reeltown lost to Fyffe in 2A title game 56-7.
  • Coaches: Mike Battles (9th year at Tallassee, 60-30 record; 24 overall, 177-85); Matt Johnson (5th Year at Reeltown, 8-11 record; 34-15 overall).
Reeltown's mascot Rufus and Tallassee's Tallie the Tiger

Tallassee vs. Reeltown Results (Winning Team/Score)

1984: Tallassee 36-21
1985: Reeltown 35-0
1986: Reeltown 21-13
1987: Reeltown 20-6
1988: Tallassee 9-6
1989: Tallassee 24-7
1990: Tallassee 14-7
1991: Reeltown 28-0
1996: Tallassee 35-12
1997: Tallassee 10-6
1998: Tallassee 27-8
1999: Tallassee 37-20
2000: Reeltown 22-8
2001: Reeltown 41-6
2002: Reeltown 6-0
2003: Reeltown 13-6