Tanner and West Limestone are both looking to rebound from a 2018 season that didn't go exactly as planned. One of those teams will get the 2019 season off to a good start Thursday night as the Wildcats travel to play the Rattlers to open the high school football season in Limestone County.
“The players are excited, the coaches are excited and the community is excited,” West Limestone coach Shelby Davis said. “Everyone is real fired up about this team and this season. I think we have an opportunity to have a special team this year.”
West Limestone won three of its first five games last season, but lost its final five games to finish Davis' first season with a 3-7 record. The Wildcats were held to single digits in four of those losses and scored 12 points in the other loss.
However, Davis said the difference between last season and this season is “night and day.”
“We've got a full coaching staff and have spent the whole offseason working just for this,” Davis said. “We all know what we're doing. We're all on the same page and we're miles ahead of where we were this time last year.”
Tanner head coach Oscar Bonds also enters his second year with the program looking to improve on a disappointing 1-9 season in 2018.
Tanner's main problem was its tendency to fade in the second half of games as the Rattler players were worn down by bigger and stronger opponents.
“I feel like we're in pretty good shape this year,” Bonds said. “I think the guys are excited and ready to go for the season. They're tired of hitting each other. I've been very impressed with their work in the offseason. We are much stronger and faster than we were last year.”
While this is a non-region game, with Tanner in Class 2A and West Limestone in Class 4A, both coaches said it is an important game for the program.
“I think this game is important, but it all started for us in the offseason right after last season ended,” Bonds said. “We had a good spring game, built some momentum, went to the 7-on-7 tournaments, and the guys did really great there. It has all been building up to this game. If we play hard, play disciplined and play well, I think we can build on that and have a good season.”
Davis said the game is also important for county bragging rights.
“I think we're the only school in the county that plays everybody else in the county,” Davis said. “One of our goals is to win the county championship. Everyone is on our schedule, and if we beat them all, we've got those bragging rights. It's a county rivalry game, and our goal is to win them all. In order to accomplish that goal, we've got to win this one.”