It was the first state football title in 19 years for the school and the first ever for Coach Scott Rials. With Troy commitment Michael Lindsey leading the way with 157 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, Elba broke open a close game to win the title.
"It's a great feeling," Rials said. "None of our guys were even born the last time that Elba was a state champion. When I got there eight years ago that was our goal. We got kids off the street that weren't playing and they worked hard and bought into our system. Fortunately for us it has paid off."
One of the guys who has grown up in the system is Lindsey. A starter since his eighth grade year for the Tigers, Lindsey had a game to remember on Friday as he was the difference for Elba along with fellow back Darrean Burks. Lindsey said he was just doing his job and fortunately it was enough to get the win.
"It feels real good to have a game like this, but I give all the credit to my offensive line," Lindsey said. "I trust those guys and just run behind them. I'm doing the easy thing, I'm just running. It's all on my offensive linemen. I love those guys right there."
In a matchup of two strong offensive teams it was Elba that struck first in the 2A final just minutes into the first quarter. Starting from its own 14 Elba ran nine plays in just two minutes and 30 seconds to get on the board first. The big play came via the pass as quarterback Austin Johnson hit Lindsey for a 46-yard touchdown and the seven-point lead.
Tanner quarterback Landon Stephens ran for 127 yards and a touchdown in the loss.
It didn't take long for Tanner to answer back as Javin Thatch took the kickoff return back 63 yards to the Elba 14. From there the Rattlers took just four plays to score as Kyle Shoulders' run from the two made it 7-7 and the fun was just getting started.
The Rattlers then took the lead thanks to an Elba turnover as Burks put the ball on the ground with Zach Whitt recovering the ball for Tanner at the 32-yard line. A seven-yard run with a facemask penalty tacked on put the ball at the Elba 12 and two plays later Landon Stephens ran it in for the score to make it 14-7 Tanner.
From there it was all Elba however as they scored the next three touchdowns to build a two touchdown lead. Lindsay again came up big for his team with the first one, a 35-yard touchdown run with 1:43 left in the first half. Elba continued its dominance in the third quarter with an 11-play, 55-yard drive capped off by another Lindsey touchdown.
With a defense in control of the game Elba added to its lead on the next drive by covering 71 yards on just five plays to make it 27-14 with Burks finishing it off in style with a 49-yard run with 3:10 left in the third quarter.
Lindsey added a final score late in the fourth quarter to send the Elba side into a frenzy and home with a state title.