Tigers finish strong
Hartselle defeats Huntsville 20-7 to wrap up first 9-win season in 12 years
Justin Schuver, Hartselle Enquirer
Hartselle senior offensive lineman Dusty Schofield, face smeared with eye black, summed up the Tigers’ 20-7 home win over Huntsville Friday in one word.
Where Hartselle is now is a 9-1 regular season record, a second-place finish in Region 8 and a first-round home playoff game against Benjamin Russell Friday night. The last year the Tigers had a 9-1 mark in the regular season was 1994.
Hartselle had a 14-0 lead before Huntsville put points on the board when backup quarterback Lucas Gibson connected with A.J. Walker for a 79-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter. But the Tigers did not show any signs of a letdown and quickly regained momentum on the next drive.
Starting on its own 24, Hartselle moved down the field in just six plays and scored when senior fullback Logan Lemmond caught a 3-yard pass from Chenault off a play-action fake. It was Lemmond’s first reception of the season.
The scoring play was set up by a long 56-yard run by Chenault, who faked a hand-off then raced around the left side and was eventually knocked out of bounds at the Huntsville 3.
Chenault had a productive day throwing the ball, finishing 12-of-19 for 107 yards and a touchdown. The Tigers were equally successful with the running game, amassing 210 yards on the ground. Leading the way was sophomore tailback Marquez Jones, who had 21 carries for 136 yards and a touchdown.
Coming into the game, Huntsville had a 6-3 record and was the third-place team in Class 6A, Region 8. The Panthers made their name with a vaunted passing attack led by its two talented wide receivers Quindarius Carr and Walker. But the Hartselle defense held the Huntsville passing game mostly in check, with Carr and Walker only managing two receptions each.
Huntsville’s starting quarterback J.B. Economy left the game in the second quarter after he was hit following an interception. Hartselle senior linebacker Caleb Blanton returned the pick 53 yards to put the Tigers up 14-0 while Economy had to be helped off the field and did not return to the game.
Wieseman said that the injury was a hip pointer and that Economy is “questionable” to return for the first round of the playoffs. Economy finished 1-of-5 for 7 yards and an interception and Gibson was 2-of-15 for 97 yards with both an interception and a touchdown.
The Tigers’ first touchdown came with 17 seconds left in the first quarter when Jones scored on a 2-yard run.
Hartselle appeared to score a touchdown with 10:54 left in the third quarter when Chenault completed a 73-yard pass to Tony Weaver, but the play was called back on a holding penalty and Hartselle would eventually have to punt the ball away. Huntsville had a 79-yard touchdown of its own called back with five minutes left in the game when Carr was penalized for offensive pass interference.
Hartselle entertains Benjamin Russell (7-3 in the regular season) in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs at J.P. Cain Stadium Friday night. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.