Chad Anderson has praised his defense all season long.
Despite the slow start, Anderson hasn’t been quiet about the outstanding job defensive coordinator Ryan Wilson and his staff has done on that side of the ball.
Stanhope Elmore found out why rather quickly.
Behind an aggressive defensive effort, Prattville registered the first shutout in the series in six seasons with Friday night’s 35-0 victory over the Mustangs at Stanley-Jensen Stadium.
“Our defense has played well all year long,” said Anderson, Prattville head coach. “We’ve given up some yardage in some spots, but they’ve always been able to stiffen up and come with it. Coach Wilson and that group do a great job getting our guys ready.”
Stanhope (3-3, 1-3 Class 6A, Region 4) had not been blanked in this rivalry since 2007, a 24-0 setback at home.
Prattville’s defense set the tone early in the contest. Several times, the Mustangs had the ball inside their opponent’s territory — twice inside of the 10 — but the Lions were able to stonewall them each time, including a blocked field goal by Michael Rabb with 24 seconds to go before halftime.
“We got the ball inside their 30 three times and came away with no points,” Stanhope Elmore coach Jeff Foshee said. “We just missed opportunities. If we make one of those and get points, I think we get momentum, and I think it’s a different ball game.”
Prattville (3-2, 3-1) grabbed a 14-0 edge at the break. Walter Steele returned a punt 90 yards during the first quarter, and quarterback Kalen Whitlow hit Seth Knotts for a 23-yard touchdown strike, which capped an 83-yard drive in the second.
The Lions’ defense stood strong again late in the third, stopping the Mustangs on fourth down to get the ball back with three minutes left. Prattville marched 71 yards down field before running back Kamryn Pettway completed it with a 16-yard touchdown run to extend the lead. Kingston Davis’ 38-yard scamper added some insurance two possessions later.
“To shut out an offense out like that, with so many weapons, says a lot about those guys,” Anderson said.
It was total frustration for Foshee.
“We do this every single day in practice, then we come out on Friday night, and it’s not getting done like it needs to,” he said.
Nothing had to be more upsetting than Stanhope’s inability to convert makable plays. With the ball on Prattville’s 8-yard line, Foshee saw an opportunity to go with a fake field goal due to the countless defenders lined up on one side.
“We run a fake punt, and to the side is only three (defenders),” Foshee explained. “We got four blockers on three. I guess my luck’s not good right now. I don’t know what to say?”
Still kind of hobbled by an injured ankle, Pettway finished with 93 yards on 14 carries. The 6-foot-1, 236-pound Auburn commitment suffered the injury two weeks ago at Thompson.
“It’s an injury that he’s had to suck it up and make it through and he did that,” Anderson said of his star running back. “He wasn’t quite as fast on the perimeter as he usually is, but up the pike, he can get down field pretty good. I think another week of rest and no bumps, and he’ll be 100 percent.”