No. 4 Hartselle at No. 1 Muscle Shoals game notes
Series: Hartselle leads 12-4-1
Last meeting: Muscle Shoals won 17-14 in 2009
Streak ends: Hartselle’s 19-game winning streak came to a close last week with Decatur’s 21-14 win. The Red Raiders were the last regular season team to beat Hartselle in 2010. The Tigers’ still have a 17-game region winning streak. However, the last region game Hartselle lost was its region game against Muscle Shoals in week 9 of 2009. Will Hartselle start a new winning streak this week or will it turn into a two-game losing streak.
Top defense in state: Muscle Shoals is coming into tonight’s game only allowing a touchdown with no extra point and a field goal. Those gaudy numbers are eerily similar to the way Hartselle started the season last year. However, Hartselle is by far the toughest test Muscle Shoals has had this season as the Tigers can match that intensity on defense, especially on rushing defense. Teams that have had success against Hartselle are those who can pass the ball effectively, something that Cullman and Decatur have done the last two weeks.
Cardiac kids: Hartselle has made things interesting in the closing minutes of games. In the last three weeks, Hartselle has trailed or been tied in the fourth quarter. It took a 16-point run against Athens to decide that game. Hartselle scored with three seconds left to beat Cullman. And last week, Hartselle drove from its own 4 and got all the way to the Decatur 31 before the drive ended on downs with three seconds left. If the Tigers can keep it close, another last-minute drive could decide their fate.
Not so special teams: Hartselle has struggled in special teams, particularly last week against Decatur. The Tigers allowed a long kickoff return for a touchdown and had a blocked field goal. In contrast, Muscle Shoals has speedsters that can make them pay for kickoffs that don’t make it to the end zone. In game where scoring is a premium, the Tigers cannot afford to give up a special teams return for a touchdown.