Hartselle controls rival Athens
Golden Eagles rush for only 14 yards
By Paul Stackhouse
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HARTSELLE — Whether or not the Hartselle High football team is playing at the top of its game remains to be seen. But Friday night at J.P. Cain Stadium, the Tigers showed plenty of potential and kept themselves in the Class 5A playoff race.
Hartselle quarterback Luke Bole connected on 12 of 15 passes for 153 yards, including three for touchdowns, while running for one score to lead the Tigers to a 42-0 home win over defending Class 5A state champion Athens.
Hartselle (3-4, 3-2 in Region 8) is tied for third place in the region with J.O. Johnson of Huntsville, and those two teams will meet in six days. The top four teams in the region advance to the playoffs.
Hartselle rolled up 440 yards of total offense, while the Tigers' defense shut down the Golden Eagles. Athens finished with 14 rushing yards, while collecting 54 yards through the air.
Time after time, the Hartselle offensive line opened holes for the running backs, while giving Bole plenty of time in the pocket to complete passes.
"We dominated the line," Hartselle center Russell Powell said. "Our offensive line was clicking tonight. That's the best way for me to describe it.
"We've been waiting for this game all year. Athens put us out in the playoffs last year, so you could say they were on the top of our list."
Hartselle running back Montrell Murphy picked up 184 yards on 12 carries, scoring one touchdown.
The Tigers jumped out to a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and cruised from there.
Bole hit Tyler Watson for a 3-yard touchdown pass while connecting with Marquez Jones for a 29-yard score through the air. Bole also ran 2 yards for a touchdown.
Hartselle continued its offensive assault in the second period, carrying a 35-0 lead into intermission.
In the second quarter, Murphy ran for a 50-yard touchdown run before Bole hit Tony Weaver on a 17-yard touchdown pass.
The Tigers' final score came in the third quarter on a 7-yard run by Jones.
"It's been a tough road for us, but it was a good night for us, also," Hartselle coach Bob Godsey said. "Our players gave us all we could ask for. I never thought we would ever win that big over Athens. But they've had a tough season, also, just like us. It was just one of those nights for us.
"I really feel like this game is going to give us confidence, and I hope that will be an advantage for us on down the road. But just because we won big, by no means is anything over. Next week is big for us and Athens, also. We all have to keep working hard."
Athens coach Allen Creasy didn't mince words after the game.
The Golden Eagles fell to 2-5 overall and 2-3 in Region 8, which is good for fifth place.
"This probably was the biggest butt-whooping I've ever been a part of," Creasy said. "It's obvious they have a burning desire to continue their season, and we didn't have that desire tonight. They started the game doing what they wanted to do, and they ended the game the same way.
"Our life isn't over. It won't last long though if we don't have some character checks. Hartselle played a great game, and I have to give them credit for that. But we have a better team than what we showed tonight."
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