Each August, everything begins anew on football fields across the state.
Every team, no matter how it finished the previous season, starts out on equal footing and with the same goal — to bring a state championship home to its community.
Of course, only six teams in the AHSAA can celebrate after the final game of the season. That’s six champions out of all of the teams in the state that take the field the last week of August each year.
It’s the same here as anywhere.
In 2011, Hartselle was fortunate enough to be one of those six teams that celebrated a state title at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Tigers put together a dream season that resulted in the Class 5A championship.Hartselle is one of three local teams that will open the season in the preseason Alabama Sports Writers Association rankings.
It’s not surprising the Tigers are No. 1. Bob Godsey has a program built to last — since a 4-7 record in 2007 Hartselle has compiled a 49-6 record in the past four seasons. That’s hard to do in 5A football.
It won’t be easy trying to repeat. The Region 8 slate is loaded with stumbling blocks, including No. 2 Muscle Shoals, Russellville, Athens, Cullman and East Limestone to name a few.
“It’s a tough region, no doubt,” Godsey said. “But we’ve played in that region before, so this isn’t something that’s new to our guys. One thing is certain: If you can make the playoffs in Region 8, then you’re going to be battle-tested and prepared for anything you face in the postseason.”
In Class 6A, Austin has moved back into Region 8 which adds only more fuel to its rivalry with Decatur. The Black Bears won city bragging rights a year ago with a 35-25 victory over the Red Raiders on the way to a 7-4 season that included a playoff berth.
Jere Adcock’s team will be looking to improve on last season’s 5-6 mark that included a first-round playoff loss against Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa.
Tanner, ranked No. 3 to start the season, is in the midst of a tremendous run as Laron White starts his 10th season. The Rattlers finished one won short of a state championship, falling to Elba in the championship game, but appeared primed to continue a streak of having advanced beyond the first round of the state playoffs every year since 2004. Of course, in R.A Hubbard, ranked No. 7 in Class 1A, is always a threat to go deep in the playoffs.
“We have the team to get back,” White said. “It just takes a lot of hard work and a lot of luck. I hope that we can draw (from last year’s experience) and use that to help us get back.”
Around the area, five teams — Lawrence County, Hatton, West Morgan, Danville and Brewer — have renewed enthusiasm with new coaches in place. Who knows which teams will emerge as surprises this season.
“It’s just like any business. We’ve got to create a demand here,” new Brewer coach Dan Styles said. “We’ve got to create a demand for people wanting to be a part of this team. I think we’re well on our way there.”
The one thing we do know is that starting Thursday night, high school football fans are in store for quite a ride for at least the next 10 weeks and beyond as their teams chase down those state title dreams.
|High School Sports||@DecaturPreps|