TALLADEGA -- Pell City High School’s football team will renew its rivalry with Talladega tonight at 7 at Mary Dumas Stadium.
The showdown will mark the first time the teams have faced off since 2009. The Panthers won that game 37-14.
Pell City has won the last seven meetings, but Talladega leads the series, 32-24.
“I am aware and I have been told that was a big series and a big rivalry game throughout town,” Pell City head coach Wayne Lee said. “We have played 50 times. It is a big game. It should be a good gate for both teams. It will be a lot of fun to play someone close instead of going all over the state.”
Talladega head coach Shannon Felder is elated about having another local team on the schedule. Even though the Panthers have gotten off to a rough start, Felder has been impressed with what he has seen.
“They are the best team that we have played all year long,” Felder said. “Their record does not indicate what kind of team that those guys are.
“They have a coach on the team that I coached with when I was at Anniston in Coach (Wendell) Young, and I told him. I was like, ‘Coach, when we saw the film ... you guys are by far the best team that we play, you just haven’t had the breaks here and there.’ We have our work cut out for us this week and we know it.”
Pell City (0-2) is looking for its first win of the season.
The Panthers fell to Southside 22-17 last week. Lee said his squad hasn’t put together a complete game this season.
“We need to turn things around and go down there and play a complete game,” he said. “Week 1, we played good defensively. Week 2 we played good offensively. Now, we need to put both of them together.
“One constant has been special teams. We have been pretty good on special teams. I feel like that is an area that we can continue to improve on. As the season goes on, I think we are going to be in a lot of close games, (and) that could be the deciding factor.”
The Tigers are looking for their second straight win.
Talladega (1-2) closed out a three-game road trip with a 27-19 win over Beauregard last week.
The Tigers’ home opener will be a special one as they will honor their seniors. Felder said he wants this to be a night his seniors enjoy, but he also wants it to be a night where his team takes another step forward.
“I want our seniors to have a good night with it being senior night,” Felder said. “They will have their family and friends there to watch.
“As a team, we need to continue to work on the fundamentals, be fundamentally sound, continue to protect the football, continue to take what the defense gives us.
“We have to do a better job of containing the ball and tackling. We played some really good defense (last) Friday night in the latter part of the game. We had some players step up and make some plays to seal the victory for us. We are going to need that again this week from those guys.”
Lee said what popped off the screen when he watched Talladega was its athleticism, especially on offense.
“(Nigel Scales) is a good quarterback,” Lee said. “He is a big-time athlete, but don't let that fool you. He can throw the ball, too. He is a good quarterback … He has several good receivers. No.12 (Michael McGregor Jr.) is his go-to receiver. They are a very athletic team.”
Felder said playing a team is like Pell City is scary for several reasons.
He said he has seen the Panthers play well in all aspects of the game at different times this season, and he hopes this isn’t the game in which they put everything together.
“From an offensive standpoint, they have some size, quickness and speed,” Felder said. “They have good running backs. They are not east and west runners; they are north and south runners.
“They do a pretty good job of ball control. The quarterback has a good arm, and when you give him time, he can put the ball exactly where it needs to be.
“Defensively, we have to be extremely concerned about their speed. They get to the ball. I don't know how long they have played together, but it seems to me that they are getting better each week.”