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Defenses key to Hartselle-Fairfield

By Staff
Charles Prince, Hartselle Enquirer
The Hartselle Tigers will face another tough defense this week, when they travel to Fairfield. After facing an Etowah team, which featured a strong front-four, the Tigers will face a team with two future Auburn Tiger football players on the squad. Defensive tackle Anquez Jackson, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 345 pounds, and linebacker Rex Sharpe, 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, have both committed to play for Tommy Tubberville next year.
Those two are part of an outstanding defense, which has led Fairfield to 10 wins.
"They're an outstanding defense," Hartselle head coach Bob Godsey said. "They're big, strong, fast and aggressive. They can out-athlete you with their defense. The run a 50 (four linebackers) defense that funnels everything to the middle."
Fairfield beat Parker earlier this season 7-6, despite only gaining three first downs on offense. Safety Jeremiah Jones returned an interception for a touchdown.
Under the direction of head coach Tim Vakakes, the Tigers went 1-9 in 2001 and 3-7 in 2002, Fairfield reached the playoffs last season with a 5-5 record. They fell in the first round to Russellville 38-12.
This season Fairfield posted a 9-1 regular season record, losing only to McAdory, 14-0 while winning the 5A-Region 5 title.
"Coach Vakakes has really turned things around there," Godsey said. "It's a place that wasn't winning much when he got there and he put them in the playoffs in three years."
Vakakes feels the Tiger coaching staff is the key to Hartselle's success.
"Coach Godsey has put together a good staff," Vakakes said. "He does a great job and I think they a tough team because they get good coaching and the coaching staff gets them to play hard."
Vakakes said the Hartselle defense looks like a very strong unit in their own right.
"Their defense is tough," Vakakes said. "They seem to be real good at causing turnovers. We'll have to be careful with that. If we give the ball away to their offense, we'll be rough shape."
Godsey said Fairfield prefers the running game instead of the pass.
"They spread you out, but they don't throw much," Godsey said. "They want to run the ball first and foremost."
Fairfield only attempted seven passes in their 14-7 win over Lee High in the opening round of the playoffs.
"We don't get too fancy on offense," Vakakes said. "We try to win with defense first, special teams second and offense third. I guess I'm old school that way."
Vakakes thinks the Hartselle Tigers are the best offense his Tigers have faced.
"Their offense is impressive," Vakakes said. "I think they have more big play capability than any team we've played this season."
Besides a tough ball game Friday, the Fairfield coach anticipates one other thing.
"From what I heard, they always bring a lot of folks with them," Vakakes said. "I've been told they bring so many fans, that sometimes the visitor's side has more people in it than the home side."

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