Jake Tiffin hands to off Masio Stover as another Hartsellle back runs with the ball. Hartselle opened practice on Monday. | Joy Harris
Jake Tiffin hands to off Masio Stover as another Hartsellle back runs with the ball. Hartselle opened practice on Monday. | Joy Harris

Hartselle looks to reload

Published 4:45pm Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Monday began one of the more exciting times of the year for Hartselle football coach Bob Godsey: the beginning of fall drills.

“It’s always an exciting time of year,” Godsey said. “This is the time of year when you get to see guys step up and be leaders. Some of them are guys you expected to step up because of how they’ve done throughout the year. There are always some surprises too. It’s just fun to see it happen.”

Hartselle is returning a much different football team from a year ago. Gone are the 21 seniors who went 45-10 in their four years. Many members of that class were also key components of the Tigers’ first state championship two years ago.

Just two offensive starters from the 2012 season remain and two others who saw playing time. The defense has seven guys back who played considerably last year, but not all of them were starters.

But Godsey said his team has been doing what it can to work on that lack of experience.

“We’ve probably done about everything we could this summer short of playing a game,” Godsey said. “The team has worked hard and done everything we’ve asked them to do. It’s going to be a work in progress to get the right pieces in place, but I feel good about what our team has done this summer.”

Unfortunately, Hartselle doesn’t get much of an opportunity to gain some experience before facing some of the tougher teams in Class 5A, Region 8. The Tigers open the season against Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa and then begin a tough four-game stretch two weeks later including Athens, Cullman, Decatur and Muscle Shoals.

“We’d kind of like it if we didn’t have to play them so early so we could get some experience, but that’s not the way our schedule works out,” Godsey said. “They’re going to get thrown in the fire right away. Although we lack experience, I do think the talent is there for us to be a good team.”

Hartselle opened practice with sophomore Jake Tiffin being the top contender to replace Deacon Aldridge, the 2011 state championship game MVP, at quarterback. Tiffin didn’t get as many reps during the spring since he qualified for the state golf tournament.

Godsey is considering other options as well, including Jamal Jackson.

“Jake had a great spring despite only getting to practice four times along with playing in the spring game,” Godsey said Tiffin. “He threw two touchdown passes and had an interception. He’s continued to work hard through the summer.

“We’re also looking at Jamal Jackson to give Jake a bit of a break at times,” Godsey added. “He offers us a change of pace.”

The biggest thing Godsey wants to achieve in the next two weeks is to get back on the fall practice schedule.

“Everybody’s trying to get back in the groove,” Godsey said. “I think the players work well when they have a set schedule. We do add some variety to keep it interesting, but it seems like they respond well to a set routine.”

Currently, the team practices at the Hartselle Junior High School campus since the new practice field and field house are not ready.

Sod on the new practice field was scheduled for installation on Tuesday and could be ready by the time school starts.

All other Morgan County football schools also began fall practice on Mondays. Some do two-a-day practices.

However, Godsey keeps to his afternoon routine, which won’t change once school starts.

Teams cannot put on the pads until the end of the week.

Godsey said they will scrimmage on Saturday and then once again on Aug. 17 at 7 p.m., when they host their annual “Meet The Tigers” event.

A player practices a punt during Hartselle's first practice of the season Monday afternoon. | Joy Harris
A player practices a punt during Hartselle’s first practice of the season Monday afternoon. | Joy Harris
Hartselle’s Jorden Robinson goes out to catch a pass during practice Monday. | Joy Harris
Hartselle’s Jorden Robinson goes out to catch a pass during practice Monday. | Joy Harris
Hartselle football players enjoy a quick water break during the first practice of the season Monday behind Hartselle Junior High School. | Joy Harris
Hartselle football players enjoy a quick water break during the first practice of the season Monday behind Hartselle Junior High School. | Joy Harris
A Hartselle coach explains a drill during the first practice of the season Monday. | Joy Harris
A Hartselle coach explains a drill during the first practice of the season Monday. | Joy Harris
Jack Waterman goes through his place-kicking routine during practice. Head coach Bob Godsey said Waterman was the most-improved player on his team. | Joy Harris
Jack Waterman goes through his place-kicking routine during practice. Head coach Bob Godsey said Waterman was the most-improved player on his team. | Joy Harris
Hartselle’s Jamal Jackson goes through a drill at practice Monday. | Joy Harris
Hartselle’s Jamal Jackson goes through a drill at practice Monday. | Joy Harris
A player runs with the ball during Hartselle's first practice of the season Monday behind the Hartselle Junior High School. | Joy Harris
A player runs with the ball during Hartselle’s first practice of the season Monday behind the Hartselle Junior High School. | Joy Harris
Hartselle head coach Bob Godsey instructs a handoff drill during the first practice of the season Monday. | Joy Harris
Hartselle head coach Bob Godsey instructs a handoff drill during the first practice of the season Monday. | Joy Harris

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