Archived Story

That’s the way to play the game

Published 11:46am Wednesday, December 7, 2011

In some ways, Hartselle shouldn’t have won a state championship.

They lost a large number of key players from last year’s state semifinal team, which lost in overtime to Briarwood Christian. They didn’t have the size or the speed of other top 10 teams in the state.

However, there’s just one thing you can discount when it comes to any high school championship team – heart.

The heart of guys like Deacon Aldridge, Blake Slayton, Masio Stover, Jeston Thompson, Will Swann, Jordan Orr, Casey Goodwin, Alec Durand, Dax Gillespie, Tyler Phillips and others. There’s just not enough room to name them all. I’ll just refer you to the entire Tiger roster for all of them.

That heart showed several times this year. When they trailed for the first time against Walker or the next week when they fell behind 21-14 to Decatur. it showed again in a hostile Cullman road game and once again in the second round of the playoffs when Hartselle rallied to beat Pinson Valley.

Yes, there was some luck involved, but that luck only gives you one more opportunity. When Hartselle got that last chance, the Tigers always took advantage of it.

Whatever this Hartselle football team didn’t have as far as talent or size, they made up for it in heart, passion and execution.

“Some teams win by being bigger or more athletic than your opponents,” Godsey said. “But the way we’ve had to win is by execution. We’ve had to out-execute our opponents.”

And that’s how Hartselle got to Tuscaloosa and won the Class 5A title. Many in the state weren’t giving the Tigers much of a chance to win the state. Vigor had just beaten Jaboo Winston, one of the nation’s top prospects, and the South had won the last four state titles.

That didn’t faze the Tigers or stop them from doing what they do. It might not be pretty all of the time. They might not have the greatest stats, but Hartselle finds ways to win.

You also can’t take it for granted when you have a guy like Gavin Marsh on your team. Without him, you probably don’t win the state championship or maybe don’t even make it out of the second round this year.

It made the decision easy for Godsey to go for a field goal when the Tigers got close to their opponents 30-yard line.

It’s been a wonderful football season. Congratulations to the coaches, players, administration and parents for the state championship. Let’s do it again in 2012.

Brent Maze is the managing editor of the Hartselle Enquirer.

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