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    SUNDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2007


    Decatur controls its destiny

    Will the real Class 5A, Region 8 champion please stand up?

    For the past six seasons, it’s been the Russellville Golden Tigers, but they met their match Friday night at home.

    Forty-six straight times Russellville had taken the field in region contests and come away the winner. That streak ended as Decatur took a 24-23 overtime win in a showdown of the only two teams unbeaten in Region 8 play.

    Decatur is now in the driver’s seat in Region 8, with region games against Muscle Shoals and Brewer left to play. One more region win will clinch at least a tie for the championship.

    “I think we’ve earned every victory we’ve gotten, and I think we’ve played against good people,” Decatur coach Jere Adcock said.

    Both programs came into Friday’s contest with impressive credentials, making the Red Raiders not just proud of the win, but proud of whom they had beaten.

    Russellville entered this one having finished runner-up in 5A in 2002, ’03 and ’04, while Decatur was a regular in the 6A playoffs before moving to 5A last year.

    After struggling a year ago, the Red Raiders are making the strides that many expected as soon as last season for a program that is well-respected throughout the state.

    “(Decatur) had been a really good 6A program for years, so why would they not be strong in 5A?” Russellville coach Doug Goodwin asked. “They’ve got a great team. They’re well-coached, so, it’s not a surprise.”

    Hartselle finds its offense: Hartselle coach Bob Godsey was the first to say his Tigers’ offense was struggling in the first half of the season.

    Hartselle’s offense hit on hard luck, and the Tigers were off to a 1-4 start before finding their stride the past two weeks. After averaging 10.5 points a game through the first three games of the season, the Tigers have put up a combined 97 points in consecutive Class 5A, Region 8 wins over Brewer and Athens.

    The two wins have put Hartselle (3-4, 2-4 in 5A, Region 8) in position for a playoff berth.

    Hartselle also scored 54 points in a region win over Muscle Shoals that snapped the Tigers’ three-game season-opening losing streak.

    Next week’s region game against J.O. Johnson (5-2, 3-2) could make the decision. Hartselle will try to outscore a Jaguars offense that has rolled up 29.7 points a game this year.

    Speake still strong: Riding a streak of five straight wins, the Speake Bobcats have silenced any critics who might have thought last season’s 9-3 record and trip to the second round of the 1A state playoffs was a one-year success story.

    In fact, even after losing several key players from last year’s history-making team — which reached the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 1996 and hosted a playoff game for the first time since 1977 — the Bobcats have posted the same record they did at this point last year. They’re 6-1 overall and 4-1 in 1A, Region 8.

    Speake won a share of the region title last year, and this season, the Bobcats are again in position to host a first-round playoff game.

    The top two teams in each region host a first-round game, and Speake is holding tight to second place behind Hazlewood, which is undefeated.

    After averaging four wins a season in 2001-2005, Speake has posted a 15-4 mark since the start of last season.

    West Limestone resurrected: It’s a different kind of season for the West Limestone Wildcats. With Friday’s 31-19 win over 3A, Region 8 opponent Lexington, West Limestone has turned the corner with a winning record and a chance to make the playoffs for the first time 1999.

    The Wildcats are 4-3 and 2-3 in 3A, Region 8, and they’re in a tangle for the fourth and final playoff berth. The top four teams in each region advance to the playoffs.

    West Limestone and Clements, also 2-3 in the region, will play Oct. 26 with a postseason chance likely on the line.

    Ardmore’s Curtis hard to stop: Despite Ardmore’s 1-6 record, senior running back Landon Curtis has been hard to stop this season.

    The Tigers are still looking for their first region win, but Curtis, Ardmore’s leading rusher, has made noise in every contest this season.

    Curtis equaled his season-opening four-touchdown performance in a loss to East Limestone on Friday night with four more scores, accounting for all of the Tigers’ touchdowns. He has 11 touchdowns and has rushed for more than 700 yards this season.

    On Friday, Curtis rushed for two touchdowns and caught two scores on passes from senior quarterback E.J. Barnes.

    Curtis’ best game of the year came in a 25-9 win over Elkmont when he delivered 294 rushing yards on 36 carries and scored four touchdowns.

    Brooke Milam Brooke Milam
    DAILY Sports Writer

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