Tournament time in Morgan County
Hartselle boys, Decatur girls open defense of championships
By Bradley Handwerger
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Darrell Harris and Mike Pline have one thing in common heading into this week's Morgan County soccer tournament.
Both bear the burden of coaching teams set to defend their tournament championships.
Five schools will try to take the title from Pline's Decatur girls, while four go for broke in an attempt to dethrone Harris' Hartselle boys.
Beginning at 3:30 p.m. at the Jack Allen Recreation Complex, there will be no more waiting.
Priceville's girls will play West Morgan on field 1, and Hartselle's girls will take on Austin on field 2.
Of all the teams in the tournament, Austin is the only one Pline's Lady Red Raiders has played, winning 2-0 on Tuesday.
That doesn't concern him, though.
"If my team plays well and focused and plays soccer the way they know, it shouldn't be a worry," Pline said.
Harris is a little less confident. His 2006 team, the one that captured the title in a penalty-kick shootout against Austin, was senior-laden. This year's team is young.
"We'll start four seniors," Harris said. "That's going to be our biggest problem — the lack of experience."
The boys' competition starts at 5 p.m. when Decatur plays Brewer.
While the girls' side boasts all soccer-playing schools in Morgan County, the boys' side does not. Austin will not play because of its Class 6A, Section 8 has eaten up 14 games on its schedule. That's most of what the Black Bears are allowed by the state to play.
Harris said that’s a break, albeit small, for the teams vying for the title.
“Austin may be the best team in this area in Class 6A,” Harris said. “They can play with anybody. Not having to play them will make the road easier for anybody.”
He added, “But playing Brewer and Decatur will be just as tough. ... Brewer, offensively, is as good as they’ve ever been. Decatur, defensively, is as sound as it’s ever been.”
Pline said that for his Decatur team to defend its title, it will have to stay. That started Monday during practice.
“I got the girls, set them down and spent a few minutes letting them know how serious this is and how meaningful it is for the seniors on the team,” Pline said. “They’re the girls who have been there before.”
As for playing the tournament at the Jack, tournament coordinator Patti Reed said the city has made it easy setting everything up. And if there’s a rainout, play will finish Monday instead of Saturday as scheduled.
“They’ll still play, but that’s for any bad weather,” said Reed, a Decatur faculty representative.
Morgan County soccer tourney
When:Preliminary round games are Tuesday through Friday with the championships Saturday (girls at 11 a.m. and boys at 1 p.m.).
Where:Jack Allen Recreation Center.
Admission: Tournament passes are $20 for adults and $10 for students. Day passes are $8.
- Bradley Handwerger
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