By Jonathan Deal
ATHENS — Tanner returns to the Class 2A state championship game Friday against a Washington County team making its first appearance in the state finals.
The Rattlers find themselves in a role reversal from last season when an undefeated Tanner made it to the championship game for the first time in school history.
Washington County (13-1) finished the season ranked No. 4 in Class 2A after finishing second in Region 1 behind Sweet Water. The Bulldogs only loss was to that same Sweet Water team on Oct. 12. Washington County avenged that loss last week by beating Sweet Water 41-33 to advance to the title game.
The 33 points allowed to Sweet Water were the most this season by Washington County’s defense. The Bulldogs are allowing 13 points per game this season while averaging 33 points.
Like Tanner, Washington County has been close to reaching the championship game after reaching the third round of the playoffs or better each of the past four seasons.
This is Washington County’s first season competing in Class 2A after making the move down from 3A last season.
Although the teams share no common opponents, Tanner looks to have the edge statistically. After last week’s 35-14 win over Reeltown, the Rattlers are averaging 46.5 points per game.
Even more impressive is the Rattler’s defensive scoring average of 6.6 points per game. Reeltown’s second quarter touchdown last week was the first one Tanner had allowed this postseason and snapped a 13-quarter shutout streak. Tanner has yet to allow a passing touchdown during the playoffs.
Tanner’s closest game this season was a 13-7 win over a Madison Academy team that will play for a 3A state championship at 11 a.m. today.
The Rattlers have yet to trail in a game.
Kickoff from Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn is at 3 p.m. Friday. The game will be broadcast on WKAC 1080AM and at www.wkac1080.com. All six games will be broadcast over the AHSAATV Network by CBS TV 42.
Series history: The teams have never met.
News Courier prediction: Tanner 27, Washington Co. 13