TANNER — Tanner continues to rout its opposition.
Hayden Stephens piled up 177 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries, and Fredrick Rich added another 172 yards and one rushing score on 12 attempts to lead the Rattlers to a 48-0 win over Walter Wellborn on Friday.
Tanner (12-0) will play Fultondale (10-2) in the third round of the Class 2A state playoffs. The Wildcats advanced by beating Fyffe.
While Tanner head coach Laron White was pleased with the Rattlers' performance against Wellborn, but he expects a much tougher challenge against from Fultondale.
"I think they're bigger than we are," White said.
Region 8 Tanner and Region 6 Fultondale faced off in Region 7 the previous two seasons before being moved to separate regions this year.
Tanner beat Fultondale in each of the previous two seasons when they met as region rivals. The Rattlers blanked the Wildcats 27-0 in 2010 and prevailed 24-7 in 2011.
Tanner quarterback Jonathon Fletcher completed all six of his passes for 110 yards and a touchdown against Wellborn. Fletcher also ran for a touchdown.
Fletcher "did a great job on his passing tonight," White said.
Kyle Shoulders rushed for a 29-yard touchdown.
Blake Whitt blocked a punt and returned it for a score to open the scoring with 8 minutes, 24 seconds to play in the opening period.
Stephens scored his first touchdown at the 2:48 mark of the first quarter when he ran 11 yards into the end zone. Fletcher added another score with a three-yard run with 4:24 left in the first half. Fletcher capped the first half scoring with a 16-yard pass to Greg McLin.
White applauded his team.
"I thought we played extremely well," White said.
White credited the defense with doing a good job of reading Wellborn's offense and forcing the Panthers out of their game plan. The Rattlers shut out a Wellborn team that scored 44.4 points per game heading into Friday's contest.
"The (Wing T) offense is difficult to stop," White said. "We did what we planned to do. We made them one dimensional."
Tanner's playoff run is progressing in similar fashion to last year. The Rattlers entered the playoffs undefeated by winning in double figures each week until losing 34-14 to Elba in the state final.
This season, after a hard-fought 13-7 victory over Class 3A power Madison Academy, Tanner crushed each of its opponents and continued that streak by blowing out Wellborn (9-3).
As for the lack of close games by the Rattlers, Stephens echoed what White and Fletcher said after last week's win over Sand Rock.
"We just focus on fighting through (to get the win)," Stephens said.
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