Prattville Christian held its own in its first season in the AHSAA last year.
The Panthers were even able to beat their closest opponent, Montgomery Academy, in boys basketball, girls basketball and baseball, ending the Eagles’ seasons.
But PCA didn’t beat MA on the gridiron, and senior tight end John Watts — who also plays basketball — plans to change that when the Panthers head to Montgomery Academy at 7 p.m. today.
“We really need to get back at them for what happened last year,” Watts said. “We had a tough loss last year. But I think we’re going to do real good against them this week. We’re prepared, we’re focused, I think we’re ready.
“It would mean the world to me. We’re ready, we deserve this win. We’re going to get it. We’ve worked hard all summer. We should be able to get them on Friday.”
Montgomery Academy all-purpose threat Josh Thomas — who was on the basketball team that fell to PCA in the area finals — said he wouldn’t mind getting some revenge, but getting a Class 2A, Region 5 win is on top of the list.
“Definitely (want to get them back for the basketball loss),” Thomas said. “But I’m just focused on the game coming up. It’s the first game in region, don’t want to start off in a hole. We want to start off in region 1-0 and get this win on Friday.”
Thomas, who plays quarterback, running back and returns punts, added playing safety to his repertoire in last week’s 28-13 win over St. James. While Montgomery Academy coach Anthony McCall said safety is Thomas’ best position, he could see it wore his star player down.
“That was the first time he’s played both sides of the ball since eighth grade,” McCall said. “Last year, we weren’t too efficient on the offensive side, so he really didn’t play too much football last year. We weren’t on the field a lot as an offense. Which I think will change if last week was any indicator, we should be able to maintain a little more ball control. But it took it’s toll on him last week. But having him back there, it’s not a bad thing.”
A fatigued Thomas could mean more touches for Eagles running back Justin Woolfolk. Last season’s 24-10 Montgomery Academy win was a three-point game until Woolfolk unleashed some long runs late in the game. Watts, who also plays linebacker, said he has no intentions of letting Woolfolk loose twice.
“Last year we really just focused on (Thomas), we really didn’t focus on (Woolfolk), we kind of underestimated him,” Watts said. “But we’re ready for both this year.”
Even though PCA is still the new kid on the block in the AHSAA, the Panthers and Eagles have budded into a little region rivalry. There’s already a friendly rivalry between coaches.
“You’re competing with each other until the horn goes off, then everything starts over again,” PCA coach Sam Peak said. “We’re going to love each other for 360 days. Then those five days we’re going to be at it, scheming and developing a way to beat each other.
“It’s a friendly rivalry. Anthony and I are going to walk out and shake hands and hug and say, ‘Love you brother.’ Yes, it’s a rivalry. I want to beat him. Anthony wants to beat me.”
Just to put fuel on the fire, McCall, and Auburn man, said he will have some choice words for Peak, who keeps his office filled with Alabama memorabilia, when they cross paths tonight.
“When we shake hands at the beginning of the game, I’ll just give him a nice ‘War Eagle,’ ” McCall said.