Elkmont and Clements will kick off their seasons tonight when the Red Devils travel to face the Colts in a battle of county foes.
For one team, it is an opportunity to brush off last season's disappointment and start fresh. For the other, it is a chance to build on last year's surprising playoff appearance.
Clements is coming off a season where it advanced to the Class 3A playoffs for the first time since 2009. While the Colts did finish the season with a 4-7 record and were bounced by Piedmont in the first round by a 41-0 score, it was an overall good season in coach Michael Parker's first year.
Parker said the playoff appearance was an important first step, but he wants to go much farther in trying to change the culture of the Clements program. The Colts have won four games three straight seasons.
“The main thing is basically, we have to change the culture,” Parker said. “That is what we've been focused on for a year now. I think we're turning the corner here. We have kids who compete now, cheer for each other, are behind each other and are good teammates. The culture is beginning to change, and with that comes pride and integrity.”
Elkmont is entering its third season with Duane Wales as head coach, and he believes this will be his best team after going 1-9 and 2-8 in his first two years.
“We've had real good practices where we worked on a lot of solid fundamentals,” Wales said. “We're still just trying to build this program, and get some good football knowledge accomplished. I feel like we have done some of that.”
This will be the 58th time the two teams have met, with Clements holding a 29-28 lead in the series. The Colts have won three consecutive games against the Red Devils, including two consecutive shutout victories. Clements defeated Elkmont 7-0 in the 2017 season finale, and then opened last season with a 29-0 win over the Red Devils.