Hartselle so close to being undefeated
Nick Johnston, Sports Ediotr
It has to be maddening.
Hartselle has lost two games by a total of nine points, and is 11 yards short of being 3-0.
Following Friday night's 17-14 loss to Russellville, the Tigers are now 1-2 overall and 1-1 in Class 5A, Region 8.
In its first loss of the season, Hartselle was 10 yards away from scoring a touchdown in overtime, and then kicking the extra point for the win. Last Friday night, the Tigers were shut out of the endzone from just one yard away as time expired.
Head coach Bob Godsey said confidence is high, but so are expectations – still.
"First of all, you play to win," he said. "Playing close is not acceptable. We did come away with some confidence Friday night, but we're playing to win."
Godsey showed his will to win in the waning moments of Friday night's game against Russellville. Rather than go for the tie and try to win the game in overtime, Godsey opted to go for the touchdown and win with just 1.1 second remaining.
The gamble didn't pay off.
"There was no doubt. It took us about a second to say we gotta go for the win," Godsey said of the discussion between he and his coaches prior to the last play. "Unfortunately, we did not end up in the right formation. The play was right, but the formation was wrong."
Godsey also said the decision had nothing to do with what had happened earlier in the fourth quarter. Patrick Whatley had his 19-yard field goal attempt blocked by Russellville which would have made the score 17-10.
"It had nothing to do with having one blocked earlier," Godsey said. "We felt that was our best chance to win … What had happened before was not a factor."
Godsey also went on to say it was not a lack of confidence in his kicking game.
The lull after the score…
Hartselle attacked Russellville's defense with ease in its first drive of the game. After receiving the opening kickoff, the Tigers went 68 yards on eight plays, eventually scoring on quarterback Seth Watson's 30-yard pass to Chris Wiley.
But then, the offense disappeared.
Hartselle gained just 30 yards from there until the beginning of the fourth quarter.
So was it an adjustment by Russellville, or the lack of execution by Hartselle?
"We didn't execute very well," Godsey said. "We didn't play with a lot of confidence, and were sort of on our heels until the fourth quarter."
Hartselle gained 188 yards alone in the fourth quarter.
But Godsey did give credit to Russellville's defense.
"Defensively, they're pretty good," he said of the Golden Tigers. "You're not going to be able to light up the scoreboard against them. At the same time, we didn't execute the way we had to or needed to."
But, there is a positive to all this. Godsey said his quarterback grew up a little.
"Seth (Watson) really grew up," he said. "He played well on the first drive and, like the rest of the team, got on his heels a little bit. But, he played extremely well. And he's indicative of our team, he continued to improve each week, and he's grasping what we're trying to do."
Improvement needed in one area especially…
He wants to remind his Tigers it's a team game.
"Offensively, it's more than going out there and just running plays," Godsey said. "It's everybody understanding how it all fits together. It's understanding how each play sets up another play. We got some guys who don't understand that."
Plays setting up other plays was none more evident than when Watson hit a streaking Luke Mize on the Tigers' final drive for 33 yards. Watson hadn't looked Mize's way much in the contest, so he caught a Russellville cornerback napping.
A play out of the Oklahoma playbook?
Think back to the Oklahoma vs. Alabama game a couple of Saturdays back.
On Oklahoma's first touchdown, Jason White faked a screen pass and hit Mark Clayton down the sidelines for a touchdown.
Godsey called a play Friday night that looked awfully similar to that play.
Watson faked a screen pass to Nikita Stover and hit Wiley down the sidelines for a 30-yard pass.
Godsey just laughed when asked if that was just a page out of the Oklahoma playbook.
"We run that screen play a good bit," he said. "Basically, every time we break the huddle the other team is yelling 'watch the screen, watch the screen, watch the screen.' Seeing plays like that on Saturdays, you think 'hey, we can do that, we need to remember that.' We've sort of been setting that play up the first two games. Probably should have went back to it."