The News Courier in Athens, Alabama


December 7, 2012

Tanner aims for first state title

No. 1 Rattlers play No. 4 Washington Co. 3 p.m. today



The Tanner offensive line, coached by Russ Grimm and Matt Smith, includes junior left tackle Baltazar Rubio, freshman left guard Austin Lewter, junior center Shamoud Baker, senior right guard Tray Fletcher and junior right tackle Seth Smith.

“I think they’re getting better every game, and Russ and Matt have done an excellent job with the offensive line this year, which has allowed me to focus on the whole team this year,” White said. “The line is gelling and doing everything full-speed, and they have done everything we have asked them to do this year.”

The Rattlers’ O-line has paved the way for more than 4,000 rushing yards from running backs Hayden Stephens and Fred Rich, senior fullback Kyle Shoulders and sophomore quarterback Johnathan Fletcher, a 6-foot, 180-pound first-year starter who has ran for 359 yards and passed for 983 yards. Stephens, a junior, and Rich, a senior who has committed to UAB, have combined for more than 3,000 yards.


Tanner, which defeated Reeltown 35-14 last Friday to advance to the Super Six, doesn’t have an apparent edge over Washington County based on film study, White said, but his team has a quiver full of intangibles.

“We’re pretty evenly matched, and there’s no obvious advantage from looking at film,” White said. “They have more guys that play, and they have (different personnel) on the offensive and defensive lines. We’ll be fine — we’ll just have to be smart with our time-outs.”

The Rattlers have the bitter experience of falling to Elba 34-14 in the finals last season, and they are using the example set by team leaders Kyle Shoulders, Dexter Douglas and Greg Maclin to stay focused in their bid to bring home the school’s first Blue Map trophy in football and the county school system’s first since Clements in 1966.

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