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Izayah Fletcher hauls in a pass during the Tigers’ 29-0 win over Austin last season. Special to the Enquirer/Jim Meadows.

Tigers open the 2022 season Friday night against Austin

The Hartselle Tigers will open the 2022 football season on Friday night as they welcome the Austin Black Bears to J.P. Cain Stadium.

The Tigers, who finished 10-1 last season, defeated the Black Bears 29-0 on the road to open last season.

Hartselle heads into the game with plenty of offensive firepower returning from last season. Headlining the offense will be running back Ri Fletcher and wide receivers Izayah Fletcher and Eli Tidwell.

Ri Fletcher ran for 1,053 yards and 18 touchdowns last season to lead the running game. Izayah Fletcher had 52 receptions for 852 yards and eight touchdowns, while Tidwell had 35 receptions for 664 yards and five touchdowns in the passing game.

The Tigers have eight starters returning on offense and seven returning on defense.

The defense will be led by an experienced group of defensive backs headlined by senior Walker Hoyle and juniors Peyton Steele and Jakaleb Goodwin.

The linebackers return one starter in senior Treyce Oden, but the group is very talented. Junior Jake Haynes and senior Kaden Worley step into the lineup.

Seniors Dalton and Dylan Green provide the veteran leadership on the defensive line. Joining the Greens will be seniors Isaac Nicholson and Caden Kelly, along with sophomore Porter Simmons.

Hartselle averaged 41.1 points per game last season while allowing 17.0 points.

The Black Bears come into the game looking to bounce back from a 4-6 season last year. Coach Jeremy Perkins will take the field on Friday night with a veteran group.

Austin will be led on offense by quarterback De’Air Young, a two-year starter, and sophomore running back Maurice Jones, who was 7A All-State honorable mention.

The Black Bears’ defense is led by senior linebacker Druce Clarke, who led the team with 99 tackles last season.

Austin averaged 21.9 points per game last season while allowing 26.8 points.

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