The Talladega County Central Fighting Tigers and the Talladega Tigers renew their rivalry tonight at Alumni Stadium in Howell’s Cove.  Another storyline for tonight’s game is Chris Mahand returning to TC Central, leading the Fighting Tigers against his former Talladega team.

“I definitely believe that it is going to be an electric atmosphere,” Mahand said. “I think it is going to be the best crowd that we have all year. The boys are excited about the opportunity to play our county rival; that goes without saying. Just the opportunity to be back to coach these Fighting Tigers is a big pleasure, too.”

Talladega enters tonight’s game looking to start the season off with a win over TC Central for the third straight season. Last season, the Tigers were able to hold on late to defeat TC Central 14-8. Talladega leads the series 4-2.

“This is the biggest game that we are going to play all year. That is our rival, Talladega County,” Talladega head coach Robert Herring said. “We would like to get this season started out on a great note, and we are hoping to do it over there.”

Mahand was pleased with his team in all three aspects of the game during fall camps. He said he’d like to have had more time to prepare.

“It has been going pretty good,” Mahand said. “Any coach would not be telling you the truth if they didn’t say they wish they had more time to prepare for their season, but you can’t cry over spilled milk. We definitely had to make some adjustments this offseason and since school started to try to get as many things we would like on our offense and defense in a short period of time.”

Herring has seen a difference in his team going into his second season at helm. He said his team is finally beginning to take on the identity that he wants them to have.

“Our kids have bought into it,” Herring said. “We are expecting a lot better than things we did last year. It’s these kids’ attitude that is what we preach. Your attitude can get you far in life, and the kids understand that after a year of ‘yes sir, no sir,’ and doing the right things. We have worked out, lifted weights and we went to camp this summer.”

Mahand will see several of his former players on the opposing sideline tonight. He said that Talladega has plenty of talented players, and he believes Herring has the team going in the right direction.

“They have a lot of experience on the team,” Mahand said. “A lot of guys I still know from the time I was at Talladega, and I think they are some excellent players. Ken Wells will be at quarterback, and I respect him and he was a great player in my eyes. When you have a senior quarterback like that who has a good understanding of the offense, which they have been running for years, you have an advantage right there. I think they are a very athletic team and a very hungry team. I think they have improved over the years. I think Coach Herring has them going into the right direction. I think we are going to have a pretty good game on our hands.”

It didn’t take much for Talladega to get up for their game against TC Central. Second-year head coach Herring said the players have called this week “Mahand week.”

“Mahand is back at TCC and we know that he is going to have them ready, “Herring said. “He did a great job when he was there before; he took them to the finals. A lot of coaches coach for 30 or 35 years and never get that far, so we know what kind of job he is going to do. We know the kids are going to be fired up and ready to play us. On the other hand, I promise that we are going to be ready.”

With less time to prepare for the season, Mahand believes the team that can execute the most tonight will earn their first win.

 “The team that can cut down on mistakes and execute their game plan will be the key to victory,” Mahand said.

Last season’s game featured several miscues for both teams. Herring said holding onto the football will be vital for his team’s success.

“Just not making many mistakes,” Herring said. “Not fumbling the ball. Turnovers kill you, no matter who you are. If we protect the ball and line up on defense like we are supposed to and play soundly, we think we have a good chance to end on top.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. from Alumni Stadium.

Contact LaVonte Young at