Daily file photo by Brennen Smith|
In a battle of Morgan County rivals and Class 5A, Region 8 foes, Hartselle will hit the road to face Decatur on Friday night.
Pride and a lot more on
the line for Decatur,Hartselle
By Brooke Milam
firstname.lastname@example.org ∑ 340-2460
Even with only one week down in the high school football season, when Decatur hosts Hartselle on Friday night, the two teams are fighting for possible postseason positions.
"I think for both teams — it's early, but it's a game that when you look back, it's going to be a make-or-break type deal," Hartselle coach Bob Godsey said.
"There are no guarantees, but the winner certainly has a leg up, and the loser has a lot of work to do."
When the two teams meet at 7 p.m. at Ogle Stadium, Morgan County bragging rights will be on the line. The rivalry dates back to 1925, with Decatur leading the series 50-19.
But more importantly, both teams are searching for their first win — Decatur fell at home to Huntsville last week 34-14, while Hartselle lost its home opener to Austin 14-7. In addition, it's the first Class 5A, Region 8 contest for both teams.
After Friday night, either the Red Raiders or the Tigers will be 0-2 on the season and 0-1 in the region.
"In this region, you can't lose an opportunity," Decatur coach Jere Adcock said. "This is a region game, and that's what makes it a big deal. Every game is important, but the way this region went last year makes it even more obvious how important every region game is."
Last year, Hartselle beat Decatur 17-7 in the second game of the season. The Tigers finished second in the region, clinching a postseason spot, while the Red Raiders wound up missing the playoffs. Hartselle scored that win at home at J.P. Cain Stadium, while Ogle has proven a tough place for the Tigers to play in recent years.
The last two times Hartselle played Decatur at Ogle Stadium, the scores were a combined 53-3 in favor of the Red Raiders.
Decatur won 23-0 in 2003 and 30-3 in 2004. The 2005 and '06 contests were both at Hartselle.
The last time Hartselle beat Decatur at Ogle Stadium was in 2001, when the Tigers took a 25-22 victory.
Still, Adcock said what's fresh on the mind of his team are its mistakes in this season's opening-week loss.
And while Friday is an all-important region game, the focus remains on improvement, regardless of the opponent.
"It's a chance to try to correct some of your mistakes and right your wrongs," Adcock said.
For the Red Raiders, Adcock said that means better blocking and tackling than last week against Huntsville. The Crimson Panthers rolled up 314 yards of total offense in scoring four touchdowns against Decatur.
In Hartselle's loss to Austin, Godsey's Tigers struggled to make big plays in low-scoring affair and have focused on finishing drives and defensive stops while preparing for Decatur this week.
"We've focused on making plays," Godsey said. "We were in position to make plays a lot (last week) and didn't. We've just talked about being more focused."
The Tigers gave up a 53-yard touchdown pass that began a 14-0 scoring run for Austin in the Black Bears' win.
Hartselle has talked about making big plays of its own, and Godsey said this week is the time to start.
"You want to get off to a good start in the region, and you have to be able to take whatever comes your way on Friday night," Godsey said. "The season's definitely not over — it's just getting started, and you want to be off to a good start."
Ogle Stadium game
Who: Hartselle (0-1) at Decatur (0-1).
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Stakes: Itís the opening Class 5A, Region 8 game for both schools and also a storied county rivalry dating back to 1925.
Class 6A: Austin (1-0) at Huntsville (1-0), Milton Frank Stadium.
Class 5A: Hartselle (0-1) at Decatur (0-1), Athens (0-1) at Muscle Shoals (1-0), Brewer (1-0) at Russellville (1-0).
Class 4A: East Lawrence (0-1) at Ardmore (1-0), Priceville (0-1) at East Limestone (1-0), Rogers (1-0) at Lawrence County (1-0).
Class 3A: Clements (0-1) at Elkmont (0-1), Danville (0-1) at Holly Pond (0-1), West Limestone (1-0) at Colbert County (0-1).
Class 2A: Addison (0-1) at Hatton (0-1), Falkville (1-0) at Westbrook Christian (0-1), West Morgan (0-1) at Tanner (1-0).
Class 1A: Speake (1-0) at Hazlewood (1-0), Brilliant (1-0) at R.A. Hubbard (1-0).
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