Talladega fourth-year head coach Chris Mahand didn’t put much emphasis on winning a preseason game, because the games that count start next Friday.
“It was a fall jamboree and we made some minor mistakes,” Mahand said. “Like I told the kids in the locker room, we started this game out 0-0, and at the end of this game we are going to be 0-0. Our season is getting ready to start next week when we play one of our county rivals in TC. That is who we are getting ready to play right now. You don’t try to put a lot of emphasis on the fall jamboree, because you have to go to work and get ready for the regular season.”
Talladega didn’t waste much time putting points on the board. The Tigers took their opening possession 73 yards down the field for a touchdown.
Senior running back Samuel Williams got things going for Talladega with runs of 10 and 11 yards. Zack Spratlin completed a pass to Devin Morris for seven yards.
A 15-yard personal foul penalty was added after the play to give Talladega the football at the Comer 41 yard line.
A few plays later, Comer was penalized with its second personal foul of the drive to give Talladega the football at the 13 yard line.
On the next play, LaDerrick Stamps went around the left end for a 13-yard touchdown. The Jack Bailey PAT was good to make it 7-0 with 7:33 left in the first quarter.
“We are definitely looking better,” Mahand said. “This is probably the best team that I have had talent-wise since I have been here. The guys have worked hard-we have struggled and taken our lumps over the last three years. I think this may be the opportunity where we can start having this hard work that we have put in the last three years pay off for us.”
Talladega defense was stingy in the first half as they only allowed Comer to gain one first down.
Talladega forced Comer to turn the football over on their opening possession of the game. Tyler Jackson fumbled the football trying to break tackles for extra yards. Senior linebacker Domanic Johnson recovered the fumble for Talladega at their own 35 yard line.
“Our defense played well,” Mahand said. “Anytime you get a shut out, even in a fall jamboree, that is exciting to the defense. I am real proud of them and what they did. We have to continue to get better; we can’t get complacent and be happy with where we are. We are still making minor mistakes that we are not going to be able to make when we play good football teams when we start region play. We just have to continue to get better.”
The skill players for Talladega showed that if they can get the football, they can make big plays. Johnson took a hand off 26 yards down the left sideline deep into Comer territory. A personal foul penalty added on after the run gave Talladega the football at the Comer 10 yard line.
Williams capped off the drive with his second touchdown of the game. The senior scored on a 10-yard run around the right end. Bailey’s PAT was good to make it 14-0 with 6:22 left in the first half.
The home Tigers did make some opening game mistakes. Spratlin tripped a couple of times when trying to hand the football off. Penalties also hurt Talladega as they had several big plays to come back including a 50-yard catch and run from Justin Kelly for a touchdown.
“We are missing a couple reads here and there,” Mahand said. “We missed a couple of blocking assignments. We blew a couple of stunts defensively, so we definitely have some stuff to work on. You are always going to find stuff when you are trying to get better. We made enough mistakes tonight that we have some stuff to work on.”
Talladega’s final touchdown of the night came from sophomore Deondre Hall. The two-point conversion was successful to give Talladega a 22-0 victory.
Talladega opens the season Friday on the road against Class 1A TC Central. The last time the two teams squared off, Talladega came away with a loss.
Comer opens the season Thursday at home Thursday against Childersburg.