At 4-4, Austin has shot at region spot
Austin High coach David Norwood said if his Black Bears don’t understand what is on the line in their last two games of the season, they soon will.
He’ll make sure of it.
“I can tell you this: If they don’t know it now, they’ll know it come Monday,” Norwood said.
“It’s going to be posted all over the locker room — the tie-breaker procedures for the playoff standings and all the postseason information.”
It’s a situation the Black Bears know well, after missing out on the playoffs by a
tie-breaker two of the past three years.
The way Norwood sees it, Friday night’s 34-28 win over Grissom gave Austin (4-4, 3-3 in Class 6A, Region 8) a chance at the fourth and final playoff spot out of the region. The last Austin football team to make the postseason was 2003, but a win over Buckhorn this week would put the Black Bears in the playoffs.
“All we have to do is win against Buckhorn,” Norwood said.
But in a scenario where every win counts, Friday night’s dramatics were a bit much to Norwood’s liking.
The fourth-year Austin coach said his team should have put away Grissom — winless in the region — much sooner.
Instead, the Black Bears found themselves in a critical situation late in the fourth quarter, losing the lead late before mounting a comeback in the final seconds of the game.
Austin led by 14 points in the fourth quarter before Grissom took a one-point advantage with 2:45 to play.
The Black Bears’ Justin Jones completed an 11-yard scoring pass to Riley Howard with 13.3 seconds to play for the win.
“They know the game should have never gotten into the situation it got to,” Norwood said.
“I’m not proud of the way they played the first 46 minutes, but I’m extremely pleased with what they did the last two minutes.”
It’s experience that Norwood hopes will help his team down the stretch, hosting Buckhorn (5-3, 4-2) at Ogle Stadium for homecoming Friday and playing cross-town rival Decatur on Nov. 2 to cap the regular season.
Hartselle’s second chance: When the final horn sounded on Hartselle’s 37-21 loss to J.O. Johnson on Friday, the Tigers penciled in a rematch with rival Cullman three weeks away.
Hartselle lost to Cullman 45-20 earlier in the season in a non-region matchup, but since the Tigers likely will finish fourth in 5A, Region 8 and Cullman leads Region 6, the two would meet in the first round of the state playoffs.
“We’re excited about it,” Tigers coach Bob Godsey said matter-of-factly Friday.
“We didn’t leave Cullman having played our best game, and we knew that. You don’t get many second chances like that, and we’ve got a chance to do better.”
Godsey said the Tigers’ 42-0 win over Athens on Oct. 12 gave Hartselle an entire second season of sorts. It put Hartselle in position for a spot in the playoffs and a chance to right the early-season wrongs. After the loss to Cullman on Sept. 28, Hartselle was 1-4. Those facts, Godsey said, are all in the past. “We’re a different football team now,” said Godsey, whose team is 3-5.
Hazlewood’s biggest win: In a season that has been filled with big victories, the Hazlewood Golden Bears got their biggest win with a 56-0 shutout of Hackleburg on Friday.
It was undefeated Hazlewood’s largest margin of victory of the year, the Golden Bears’ fourth shutout and the most points Hazlewood has scored this season. Hazlewood (8-0) also wrapped up the Class 1A, Region 8 championship.
The 1A fourth-ranked Golden Bears have outscored opponents 305-50 this season.
Elkmont’s new era: With a 33-14 win over Sheffield on Friday, Elkmont (4-4, 3-3 in 3A, Region 8) remains in third place in the region and is on track to make the playoffs for first time since 1999.
The Red Devils have made strides under Don Jacobs, who is in his first season as a head coach. The former Alabama quarterback served as offensive coordinator at Troy State and Alabama A&M and most recently was an assistant coach at Coosa-Central High in Rockford.