Stars in the spotlight

Offensive lineman Gage Saint is attracting Division I coaches. He committed to Troy on June 25 but also has offers from Arkansas State, Chattanooga, Eastern Kentucky, South Alabama, Southern Miss and Western Kentucky. The 6-foot-4, 291-pound tackle will anchor a line that will lean heavily on the run game.

Lay of the land

Hatton competes in Class 2A, Region 7 with Addison, Colbert County, Red Bay, Sheffield, Tanner and Tharptown. The Hornets open their region schedule with back-to-back road trips to Red Bay and Sheffield before hosting Colbert County. Hatton’s non-region schedule includes West Morgan, East Lawrence, Lexington and Clements.

Head coach

Denton Bowling enters his fourth season with a 12-18 record at Hatton. Bowling previously was a coordinator at Northridge in Tuscaloosa County. Last season was Bowling’s most successful since becoming the coach of the Hornets.

Last season

Hatton went 6-4 last season, basically missing out on the playoffs by one point. The Hornets lost to Sheffield 17-16, and Sheffield earned the fourth spot over Hatton thanks to that win. Hatton started that season 1-3 before winning four in a row and splitting the last two games.

Last three seasons

Hatton went 4-6 in Bowling’s first season before following that up with a 2-8 season in Bowling’s second year. The Hornets last made the playoffs in 2015. Hatton’s two most successful seasons came in 1993 and 1991 when the Hornets won 10 games in both seasons.

Words to grow on

“We try to control the day that we’re involved in,” Bowling said. “We never want to look too far ahead or too far back.”

Quarterback

Joseph Crumpton will get his chance to be the signal caller for Hatton. He is learning the position since his main position is on defense.

Offense

Carter Reed and Jaxson Mitchell will try to take pressure off of Crumpton in the running game. Hatton will try to run the ball as much as possible behind Saint and the rest of the offensive line.

“I believe in running the football, and that’s what we’re going to have to do here,” Bowling said. “We’re going to have to do that to be successful, especially in our region.”

Defense

Crumpton will also be a big part of Hatton’s defense at middle linebacker, where he started last season. A good year from Crumpton could place him high on Hatton’s all-time tackles list. Reed, Mitchell and Brock Pace are key returning starters.

Must-see game

Hatton travels to Red Bay for its second game of the season. The two teams have played 38 times with Red Bay winning 29 of those. The game will be an important region contest for both teams.

Final word

“We have to stay healthy and the kids know that,” Bowling said. “We’ve got to be smart in how we practice and how we scheme. We want to go out on Friday night and be the best players that we can be.”

—matthew.speakman@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2460. Twitter @DD_MSpeakman.

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