By Kim West
Nine of the top 10 teams in Class 2A claimed victories in Week 7 action last Friday, with Tanner poised to seize the second spot in the ASWA poll released Tuesday.
The Rattlers (6-1, 5-0 Region 8), which easily dispatched Sheffield 49-15 last Friday, are eyeing their fourth straight region title with a victory this Friday at Hatton (3-4, 2-3).
Tanner, the defending 2A state champions, began the season in the top spot but dropped to third after a Week 1 loss to 3A defending champions Madison Academy.
Washington County (6-1), the No. 1 team in 2A, lost last Friday to Sweet Water, 35-32. This should allow No. 2 Mobile Christian, which downed Millry 56-7, to grab the top spot heading into Week 8, and Tanner to move up to No. 2.
After dropping the season opener 48-6 to the Mustangs, a young Tanner team has scored an average of 44.3 points per game while holding opponents to 12.3 ppg.
“This year has been a pleasant surprise,” said Tanner coach Laron White on Monday. “We have high expectations this season, and we set a goal to win a state championship again, even with the great players leaving from last year.
“We still have a lot of room for improvement, but we’re getting better every game. I’m hoping with the Hatton game, it’s the same situation where we’re able to get younger guys ready to play in the playoffs.”
Tanner, which took down Red Bay (5-2, 4-1) in Week 2 and Lexington (6-1, 4-1) in Week 4, is heavily favored to repeat as region champions. If the Rattlers take down Hatton Friday, the victory would give the program its 17th region title since 1976 and fifth in the past six seasons.
“Region championships are not easy to come by, and we played Red Bay and Lexington this year,” White said. “These were extremely tough games, but our guys overcame that. To be in a position to win a region title is special, and it’s hard to do.”
The Rattlers have won 33 consecutive region games, with their last region loss coming to Lexington in 2009.
Tanner, which throttled Hatton, 60-6, last season, hasn’t lost to the Hornets since a 49-14 loss in 2002.