War of Brothers
Decatur, Hartselle face off Friday night
High school football is a big deal in Alabama and there are plenty of serious rivalry games that can back that up. One of the classic matchups in North Alabama is the heated rivalry between the Decatur Red Raiders and the Hartselle Tigers.
It is one of North Alabama’s oldest rivalry’s with the first game dating back all the way to 1917. This year’s game will be very important as it marks the 50th anniversary of the game in 1965 when Hartselle defeated Decatur for the first time in 27 years. Hartselle took the first game ever by winning the game 12-0.
Decatur holds the edge in the rivalry especially early on as they lead 58-23 in the rivalry, however Hartselle has gained ground in the past 20 years and now each year there is no way to tell who is going to win. Since 2006, the rivalry has gone back and forth with the only consecutive wins coming in 2009 and 2010 when Decatur beat Hartselle. Hartselle has taken the 06, 08, 11, and 13 meetings while Decatur has taken the 07, 09, 10, 12, and 14 meetings.
Hartselle has worked hard to get on Decatur’s level after always being in their shadow years ago. Fellow staff writer Clif Knight, who also wrote the story form that game in 1965, knows very well the hurdles that Hartselle has had to overcome. “In those days Hartselle only had a population of about 6,000 so we were overshadowed by Decatur usually” Knight said “ It was always the country boys against the city boys.” Current Hartselle head coach Bob Godsey has a very similar viewpoint on the rivalry. “Hartselle has always been the little brother” Godsey said “ there are so many families that have parents and kids that are intermingled in the schools and that just makes it a more personal
Godsey and Decatur head coach Jere Adcock know very well the personal ties that are in the rivalry. Both men served as assistant coaches at Decatur under legendary high school coach Steve Rivers, who is the father of NFL quarterback Phillip Rivers, in the early to mid nineties. “It’s like playing your brother” Adcock said “ Godsey and I are great friends and I love him to death but when it comes down to it you always want to beat your brother.”
Godsey found humor in Adcocks response but he also echoed his statement. “I spent eight years at Decatur and I learned a lot and still have a lot of friends from there” Godsey said “but at the same time you want to win and like he (Adcock) said its like playing your brother and you always want to beat your brother.”
The rivalry of Decatur and Hartselle has always been and will always continue to be very special. Every year fans pack out the stadium, whether its J.P Cain or Ogle, and watch the players give everything they have to win no matter what their record is. Godsey knows how important this game is for the two cities, the people and the players. “Football is very important to all these people and this game means a lot” Godsey said “The atmosphere that is created, to be able to allow these students to experience something like that is a great feeling.”
Hartselle will travel to Ogle stadium this Friday to take on the Red Raiders. In their last meeting, Decatur won 20-17 after they kicked a last second field goal. However, the last time this game was played in Ogle the Tigers prevailed 13-10 after then sophomore and now senior defensive back Lane Anders sealed the game with an interception. There is sure to be plenty of fireworks when toe meets leather this Friday at 7 P.M.