Friday's game a measuring stick for Clements, Tanner

Clements' Hunter Towe races down the sideline in last Friday's victory over Elkmont.

Clements is looking to continue the momentum from its opening victory against Elkmont, while Tanner is looking to get on the win column after a competitive loss against West Limestone.

The Colts will host the Rattlers in a nonregion game Friday night, looking to start 2-0 for the second consecutive season.

The two teams met last season in Tanner, with Clements taking a 32-6 victory. However, Clements coach Michael Parker said the Rattlers are much-improved this season.

“Coach (Oscar) Bonds has done a great job over there,” Parker said. “Like me, he's having to develop a program and build it from ground level. The improvement on film from last year to this year is tremendous.”

Tanner might have lost to West Limestone 21-2 last Thursday, but Bonds said he was still able to hold his head high after the defeat based on how his team played against a much larger roster.

“I thought we played well for the most part,” Bonds said. “On defense, I thought we flew around and played enthused. We stopped their run and made them one-dimensional. We just gave up a few big passing plays that cost us.”

Clements ran for more than 450 yards in a 50-6 win over Elkmont last Friday, and Bonds knows the Colts will want to do the same thing against the Rattlers' defense.

“I feel like this will be strength versus strength,” Bonds said. “Their strength is running the ball, and I feel like the strength of our defense is stopping the run. It comes down to who wants it more in the trenches.”

Tanner was able to move the ball offensively against West Limestone last week but bogged down when they got into scoring position. Two Rattlers' drives inside the Wildcats' 5-yard-line ended with no points. Tanner fumbled on the 1-yard line the first time and was then stopped on downs at the 4-yard line on the second possession.

“We moved the ball well all game, but we would stumble when we got inside the 35,” Bonds said. “We had guys running wide open but couldn't get them the ball. For some reason, our quarterback and receivers weren't on the same page. This week maybe we'll be able to make those plays. We've got to be able to finish our drives this week.”

One thing Parker noticed after watching film of Tanner is how athletic the Rattlers are. He said combating that athleticism will be a key to winning Friday's game.

“They are one of the most athletic teams we will play this year,” Parker said. “I hope our kids can slow them down a little bit. I expect it to be a war. I think our guys will be ready to play, and he'll have them ready. I really think it will be a great game. I just hope it falls my way.”

No matter how the game ends, it will be a learning experience for both teams as they prepare to enter region play.

“This game is a measuring stick,” Parker said. “We use this game to see where we're at and to see what we need to work on to finish as high in the region as we can. It will be a good test for both teams Friday night.”

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