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Hartselle-Cullman rivalry focus of two towns

Hartselle’s locker room after a first round loss to Cullman three years ago wasn’t a very happy place.
After Cullman rallied late to beat the Tigers 42-41, Hartselle players, coaches and fans were left to watch the Bearcats celebrate the win that ended Hartselle’s season.
And the memory of that first-round playoff loss hasn’t faded over time. That’s just the nature of the rivalry between Hartselle and Cullman.
“That game was a pretty hard loss for us,” said Hartselle head coach Bob Godsey. “We haven’t played Cullman since that game and we feel like we have a bit of a revenge factor this week. We’re looking for a little payback.”
There is a lot riding on the game – a situation that came through a random draw – when Hartselle and Cullman were scheduled to square off in the final region game of the season for both teams.
Even in August before the first game had been played, most felt that this week’s game would determine the region championship.
True to form, that scenario will play out Friday night at J.P. Cain Stadium.
“Everything had been pointing to this game since the start of the season,” said Hartselle defensive coordinator Larry Peck. “We knew that it was going to come down to this. We’ve got them at our place and hopefully we’re ready to go play.
“I know our kids will be excited. Our fans will be and the town will be, too.”
Hartselle has won 16 region or area championships since 1974, but the Tigers are in no mood to share this year’s title. Especially with Cullman.
Hartselle needs a win Friday to claim the outright region championship by virtue of wins over Walker and Cullman.
The Bearcats, who were beaten earlier in the season by Walker, would like nothing more than to force a three-way tie atop the region standings and force a tiebreaker for the top three spots in the region as far as first-round playoff games are concerned.
That makes this week’s game a must-win for both teams. But everybody knew that would be the case two months ago.

Sports editor Todd Thompson can be reached at 773-6566 or at