Hartselle scores early, often to beat Hayden
If the Hartselle Tigers keep this up, the reserves might be in better shape than the team’s starters.
Hartselle continued to pillage opposing defenses with four first-half touchdowns on the way to a 48-0 trouncing of Class 5A, Region 6 foe Hayden at J.P. Cain Stadium Friday night.
“I thought we came out tonight on a mission,” said Hartselle head coach Bob Godsey after the first meeting with Hayden. “I was really pleased with our intensity. I thought we played fast and I thought we played hard.”
The Tigers improved to 3-0 overall with the win and are tied for the region lead with Walker – the next team on Hartselle’s to-do list.
Hartselle’s defense picked up its first shutout of the season, overcoming several short-field situations by keeping Hayden in check.
“It’s good to get the first shut out of the season,” said Hartselle linebacker Jake Kimbrell. “We knew we had to up our intensity level for this game because Hayden was ready to play and that’s what we did.”
Hayden finished the night with just 36 yards on the ground and the Panthers came up with 117 yards of total offense.
But most importantly, the Tigers shut out their first opponent since the 2008 season.
“It’s a good night anytime you shut anybody out,” said Hartselle defensive coordinator Larry Peck. “It’s all set up. That’s what we want. We want to have the chance to play in big games like that. That’s what we strive for.”
Hartselle needed just 15 seconds to post an early lead. Senior Malcolm Fossett took the opening kick near the goal line and outran a long line of Hayden defenders on the way to the 99-yard return for the game’s first score.
The scoring play was the longest of the season by Hartselle.
“We talked before the game about jumping on them early,” said Hartselle quarterback Will Lang. “We wanted to execute really, really well. We know that next week it isn’t going to be this easy.”
Fossett added to the lead when he broke free on a 9-yard touchdown with 5:15 remaining in the quarter.
Hartselle added two more scores in the quarter to take control of the game with a commanding 28-0 lead.
“That’s the way we have to play. We have to out-execute people,” Godsey said. “We aren’t going to be able to line up and out-athlete a Walker or a Decatur.
“We’ve just got to be able to out-execute those types of people to have a chance.”
Isaiah Fowler intercepted a Hayden pass and returned it to the Wildcats’ 21-yard line to set up one of the scores.
The Tigers reached the end zone when Will Lang threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Sidney Steele.
The defense closed out the quarter when Jackson Reeves grabbed a Hayden fumble and returned it 63 yards with no time on the clock to give Hartselle the 28-0 advantage.
Lang threw his second touchdown pass of the game in the second quarter with a 6-yard play to Chance Partlow that pushed the lead to 35-0.
“I think that our offensive line is really starting to click,” Lang said. “That’s really making my job easier.”
Hartselle sent most of the starters to the bench for the rest of the night.
Blake Slayton scored on a 1-yard run, while Deacon Aldridge added another touchdown on a quarterback keeper for the Tigers.