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Hartselle linebackers No. 22 Jackson Boyer and No. 24 Drew Cartee combine for a tackle during the Decatur game Friday night. Enquirer Photo/Mariann Parker

Hartselle dominates in win over Decatur

The Hartselle Tigers and Decatur Red Raiders met for the 86th time Friday night at JP Cain Stadium, with a trip to the playoffs on the line.

A Hartselle win would guarantee a spot in the playoffs, but a loss would almost eliminate the Tigers.

This is one of the longest-running rivalries in the state, with Decatur leading the series 59-26 entering the game. 

Friday the Tigers showed their superiority, topping the Red Raiders 49-7.

Both teams were amped up early in the game, and it showed, as both teams combined for seven dead-ball personal foul penalties in the first 5:52 of the first quarter.  

After the officials got both teams to settle down, the Tigers took  control of the game.

The Hartselle offense turned the ball over on HHS’ first possession with a fumble, and the Red Raiders recovered it at the Hartselle 45-yard line.

Decatur failed to take advantage of the great field position and was forced to punt after three plays.

The Tigers offense woke up following the Decatur punt. The Tigers would score on their next three drives to open up a 21-0 lead on the Red Raiders.

Decatur got on the board late in the first half when Grayson Vermeire hit Reed Harbin for a 47-yard touchdown pass to cut the Hartselle lead to 21-7.

The Tigers answered back with another scoring drive right before halftime to extend their lead. Cal George scored one of his four rushing touchdowns with 35 seconds left in the second quarter to give Hartselle a 28-7 lead heading into the break.

Hartselle would go on to outscore the Red Raiders 21-0 in the second half to secure a 49-7 victory. Their final points came on an 85-yard interception return by sophomore defensive back Dev Turney, just seconds into the fourth quarter.

Hartselle dominated the game with a rushing attack. Senior running back Brinten Barclay had his best game as a Tiger, as he rushed for 211 yards on 25 carries and two touchdown runs. 

George added four touchdown runs.

The 49-7 victory is the second-largest margin of victory for the Tigers over Decatur in the series, according to the Alabama High School Football History website, www. ahsfhs.org. The largest margin of victory came in the second meeting of the series, when Hartselle won 51-0 in 1922. The third-largest margin came in a 39-0 victory in 1925. 

“Our defense played lights out, and our offense fed off their intensity,” said Coach Bo Culver. “Our kids believed in each other tonight, and their play on the field showed that.”

With the win, the Tigers (3-4, 2-2) have now secured a spot in the playoffs. Their seeding will be determined by the outcome of their game at Cullman Friday night.

A win will mean the Tigers will be a three-seed and travel to either Mae Jemison, Albertville or Buckhorn. A loss will leave the Tigers as a four-seed on the road to Fort Payne.