Defense showing its strength
Hartselle’s defense has stepped up this season to become one of the state’s stingiest units to take the field and that success has helped the Tigers win five of six games this fall.
The Tigers lost a host of starting players from last year’s defensive unit, but a host of young players have stepped up to fill key roles.
In six games, the Tigers have limited opponents to seven points or less four times, equalling last season’s success reached in 13 games.
Yet unlike the Tigers’ 2008 defense, Hartselle has recorded just one shutout this season – a 48-0 blanking of Class 5A, Region 6 opponent Hayden.
Brewer, Walker and West Point were limited to just seven points each in losses to Hartselle this season, but two of the three touchdowns came against young reserves late in routs.
Walker scored just one touchdown against the Tigers on a kickoff return. The Vikings, ranked in the top 10 most of the season, did not score an offensive touchdown on the Hartselle defense.
Class 6A Decatur was the only team to score 20 points on Hartselle this season. However, the Red Raiders took advantage of two Hartselle fumbles early to use a short field to claim an early 10-0 lead before holding on to a 20-14 victory.
Decatur also scored on a blocked punt.
Hartselle’s defense might not be as dominating as the 2008 squad that recorded four shutouts and held opponents to seven points or less eight times just yet. But the Tigers have proven to be an aggressive unit that takes advantage of speed at almost every position.
Last week, the Tigers’ defense got more than a bit offensive, scoring a pair of touchdowns and recording two sacks to lead the 55-7 homecoming victory.
Now, with a region championship hanging in the balance, the Tigers’ defense must come up strong in the team’s final three region games – at Curry, then at home against Mortimer Jordan and Cullman.
With four regular season games to play, Hartselle would like nothing more than to wrap up a region championship and earn the right to host a first-round playoff game. And the Tigers’ defense will be a big key.
Sports editor Todd Thompson can be reached at 773-6566 or at firstname.lastname@example.org