Rumble in the Valley
After months of waiting football season has finally arrived and everyone in Hartselle was boiling over with excitement. The season kicked off Friday as the Tigers of Hartselle travelled to Pinson Valley to take on the Indians. This would be the fifth time since 2010 the Tigers and Indians have played after never having played before. The tigers came in leading the series 3-1. The previous four encounters have featured plenty of fireworks and Friday night’s game was no different. Under the stadium lights and in front of a packed house the two 6A gladiators did battle. Both teams had plenty of first game jitters and rust as they struggled to get anything going offensively early on. Hartselle would get going though as they used a steady dose of running back Taylor Easterling to drive down the field and into the red zone. Easterling would actually score a touchdown on a three yard carry but a chop block penalty would bring it back and the Tigers would be forced to kick a field goal giving them the lead 3-0 with 1:41 left in the first quarter. It wouldn’t take long for the Indians to retaliate though as three plays later Pinson quarterback Jackie Matthews would connect with Errius Collins on a 78 yard strike after defensive back Lane Anders slipped leaving Collins wide open. The Indians would take the lead as the first quarter ended 7-3. The Tigers would answer on the following drive though as backup quarterback Trevor Oakes would enter the game and the lead the Tigers down the field and cap the drive off with a 10 yard touchdown throw to Garrett Wade to give the Tigers the lead at 10-7 with 8:22 left in second quarter. The back and forth game would continue though as the Indians returned the ensuing kickoff to the Hartselle 48 yard line and the running back Torrey Hendrix would knock it in three plays later on a 23 yard run to give the Indians the lead back 14-10. The Indians would get the ball back after forcing the Tigers to go three and out and would drive down the field into Hartselle territory before Caleb Finn would stretch out to make a great interception and stop the Indians with 3:08 left in the second quarter. Quarterback Jake Tiffin would lead the Tigers down the field and connect with receiver Tobias Mitchell for a 37-yard gain to get to the Pinson 12 yard line. The Tigers would be stopped though as the Indians defense stepped up and stopped them at the 1-yard line with 14 seconds. The Tigers would manage to get another play off but they were forced to hurry and Pinson Valley would take advantage and stop them at the 1-yard line as time expired. The Indians would come out of halftime to drive down the field and cap it off with a three-yard touchdown carry giving them a bigger lead of 21-10. On the ensuing Tiger, possession Jay Woods would intercept Jake Tiffin after the pass ricocheted off Mitchell’s hands. However, the Tiger defense would bow up and force the Indians to pooch punt back to the Tigers. Hartselle would once again drive down the field and end the drive with a Beau Nosal field goal cutting the Indians lead to eight with 11:08 left in the game. Pinson Valley would seal the game though after running back Hendrix popped out a huge touchdown run after he was assumed down, in a play very reminiscent of the Michael Dyer run in Auburn’s 2011 National championship game against Oregon. Pinson Valley would knock off Hartselle 28-13 in the season opener for both teams. Despite the loss Hartselle head coach Bob Godsey would remain optimistic about his team. “I thought we practiced well this week but I think our timing was just off” Godsey said “It’s a long season and I think we can use this to motivate us and pull us together as we get ready for region play”. Hartselle will travel to Brewer August 18 for another non-region game before hosting Athens September 4 to begin region play.