Nothing comes easy

Hartselle Tigers working for success in more ways than one

Caleb Suggs

Hartselle Enquirer

 

To say the last few years have been tough on the Hartselle Tigers football program would be an understatement. The Tigers are used to playing the ultimate underdog role, but the past few years they have had to face it tougher than usual. Since 2013, the Tigers usually start every year with a death analysis as critics give the prediction the Tigers will go anywhere from 2-8 to 6-4 and also predict that they will miss playoffs . The Tigers have done well to overcome these odds as they have made the playoffs each year. However, they still have not reached the goals they set since 2011 when they won the school’s first ever AHSAA football state championships. The Tigers have not won their region since 2011, after winning it four years in a row from 2008 to 2011. They also have not been past the first round of the playoffs or hosted a playoff game since 2012. Hartselle did move in class 6A in 2014, which is regarded as the best class in Alabama from top to bottom, but Hartselle treats this as an unacceptable excuse. They know they need to turn things around and they feel this season will be that year.

Led by senior quarterback Trevor Oakes, who is regarded as the most prepared quarterback to never start a game, the Tigers believe they have the players this year to make some noise. “We can all feel it. The vibe is there.” Oakes said “We feel like we have the potential to shake things up around here.” The Tigers have been hard at work this summer as they participate in summer workouts every Tues-Thurs beginning at six a.m. Although this has been normal for every Hartselle squad since anybody can remember, Oakes believes things are different this year. “We’ve changed some stuff up. We’ve done more heavy lifting and more running” Oakes said “The biggest thing is everyone is showing and holding themselves accountable which is huge.”

That is not all that Hartselle is doing preparing as they are also participating in team camps with various teams including with Huntsville High School June 30. In these camps, the two teams work together and against each other in a practice like setting  without pads. The camps give the teams a chance to work against players that aren’t their own. “I love it” Oakes said “When you play against your own every day, eventually their going to learn the plays. So it gives us a chance to work fresh.”  The Tigers were very happy, not only with their performance in the camp, but with the depth they had. “We had like three guys rotating at one spot and they were all as good as the previous” Oakes said, “to have that many guys to be able to throw to is very reassuring.”

The Tigers have also been hard at work off the gridiron. Hartselle has participated in several fundraisers this offseason. The first was a mattress sale that the Tigers have been doing every year. “I really like that fundraiser” Oakes said “I think we sold about 70-80 mattresses.” The other fundraiser was one that was new this year, selling corn. The corn was donated to the team to sell, as long as they picked it of course. “We were out there for about 4 hours picking corn. We picked about 35,000 ears of corn.” Oakes said, “It was a really great fundraiser but it definitely didn’t make me want to be a farmer.”

Oakes himself has been busy preparing himself to be the best quarterback he can be as he attended the prestigious Manning Passing Academy. It was there that he was able to work alongside some of the top recruits in the nation as well as under some of the top college quarterbacks including Deshuan Watson, Baker Mayfield, Chad Kelly and Josh Rosen. “It was a surreal experience. Getting meet to those players as well as Peyton Manning” Oakes said “After I stopped being star struck I started picking their brain, learning everything I possibly could.”

As the 2016 season looms around the corner, the Tigers know there is plenty of pressure on them to perform well. “I think we know its there in the back of our minds that we haven’t been past first round in three years.” Oakes said “It is definitely something that motivates us to work hard everyday.”

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