Ri Fletcher runs the ball in the Tigers’ victory over Jackson-Olin last season. Enquirer photo by Mariann Parker

11 questions heading into football season

High school football teams in Alabama kick off another season Aug. 7 when formal practices begin. Following are 11 burning questions about the 2023 season in the Hartselle and Morgan County areas:

Hartselle went undefeated last year in the regular season. Can the Tigers reload to do it for the third straight season? The Tigers have the talent on offense and defense to go undefeated. The defense will need to carry the team early on as the offense hits its stride. The only question is will the lack of experience on offense hold them back?

Can all five local teams return to the playoffs as they did last season? Each team is having to replace valuable offensive pieces that led them to the playoffs last season. A couple of teams have players ready to step into new roles with game experience, but will it lead to the playoffs? Only time will tell.

Priceville lost All-State running back Mason Cartee and linebacker Jake Langlois. How will the Bulldogs do this season without either of them? The Bulldogs lost their top two players, but for them, it is more of a question of the players around them that are now gone from last season. Finding replacements on the defense will be vital in Priceville maintaining the level of success they have had the last four years.

With five new quarterbacks in the area this season, which one steps up with a surprise breakout season? Keep an eye on Hartselle’s Landon Blackwood and Brewer’s Cason Oden. Both have experienced players around them that will help them early on.

Hartselle’s Ri Fletcher had more than 2,000 combined yards last year. What can he put up this season as a senior? Fletcher ran for over 1,300 yards and had almost 300 yards receiving last season. He will be used in new ways this season to best maximize his abilities. May believe that his best is yet to come.

Blitz Clemons ran for over 800 yards last season as Priceville’s second or third option. What can he do as their first option this season? The level of difficulty changes for Clemons this season as he steps into the main running back position this season. He has been behind Mason Cartee for the last two seasons and has seen what it takes to be a high-level back. Can he take what he has learned and use it to be the best he can be this season?

Brewer has made steady improvements in Matt Plunkett’s first two seasons. Can they continue the trend this season? The Patriots have a lot of pieces returning from last year’s playoff team. Experience will go a long way in keeping the upward trajectory going at Brewer.

What first-year starter will have the most significant impact on their team this season? Landon Powers at Falkville can have the most significant impact of any first-time starter at his position. He moves from wide receiver to quarterback. He will have the ball in his hand each offensive play and has the athletic ability to make all the passes or break a long run.

Can this year’s Hartselle and Priceville offenses come close to the 40 points per game they averaged last season? Both teams are replacing the bulk of their offenses from last season. Getting players acclimated to game speed and conditions will go a long way in reaching that point but it may be difficult to reach.

Who will end up being the breakout player that comes from nowhere this year and shocks the area? There are several candidates for breakout player of the year. Landon Blackwood and Landon Powers lead the pack but keep an eye on Cason Oden and Jace Glenn.

What game will end up being the game of the year? Will it be an obvious one or one that shocks us all? There are several games to keep an eye on in the regular season. Last year it was Hartselle’s last-second win on the road at Muscle Shoals. Will that be the game of the year again?

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