Stover doesn't want repeat of last Gardendale game
Lindsay Vaught, Sports Correspondent
Only a few Hartselle players remain from the team that played Gardendale two years ago in the first round of state high school football playoffs. Nikita Stover is one of those few. He was the starting cornerback and played some at wide receiver that night at Cain Stadium.
Then the roles were reversed. Hartselle came in at 8-2 and was region champs. Gardendale barely made the playoffs at 5-5. But when the game started none of that mattered. That is why coaches call the playoffs 'a whole new season'.
Gardendale dominated from the outset. The Rockets led 24-0 at halftime. Hartselle finally got on the board late but the outcome of the game had already been decided. The final was 45-14, one of the Tigers worst home losses ever.
"They literally ran the ball all over us," said Stover on Monday as he prepared for the rematch. "They had big guys up front and we were a young team. They came up here and beat us pretty good, I remember that," added Stover who recorded an interception and two catches in that game.
Stover has put that game out of his mind and says that he is just looking at this weeks' match-up as another game. "They are a good team, I have a lot of respect for them but we're just trying to get a win. We will have to work as a team to beat them but I saw some film on them and I think we can beat them," Stover said.
The Tigers will need some big plays from the future Crimson Tider like he delivered last week on an 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
"I expect to be double teamed, even triple teamed. Teams have been doing that all season," Stover said.
Also on Monday Coach Bob Godsey said that he likes his teams' momentum going into the playoffs.
"I think we are playing the best we've played all year. A big reason why we've won four in a row is we've been able to run the ball as well as pass," Godsey said.
Godsey knows Stover can be the game breaker in a close battle that he expects.
"We will run our offense and a lot of that goes through Nikita," Godsey said.
Hartselle's defense will have to step up.
"They are bigger than us across the line," Godsey said. "Their running backs carry the offense and their defense has set up a lot of their scores. We are going to have to take care of the ball because Gardendale has scored a lot off their defense."
If they win, the Tigers would play the winner of the Arab-Gadsden game. Hartselle would host Arab or go to Gadsden.
WHAT: FIRST ROUND STATE HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS
WHERE: GARDENDALE STADIUM, 7:00 PM, FRIDAY NIGHT
DIRECTIONS: I 65 SOUTH, EXIT FIELDSTOWN ROAD, THEN LEFT, GO TO FOURTH RED LIGHT (MAIN STREET) TURN RIGHT STADIUM IS _ MILE ON RIGHT BEHIND A LARGE CHURCH AND ADJACENT TO THE HIGH SCHOOL