Senior trio powers the Tigers' offense
Charles Prince, Hartselle Enquirer
During the decade of the 90s, the Dallas Cowboys won three Super Bowl titles in 1993, '94 and '96. During the span, Troy Aikman was at quarterback, Emmitt Smith was at running back and Michael Irvin was at receiver.
It seemed one of the three would make the deciding play in each of the big games the Cowboys played. In fact, the trio made so many important plays, Cowboy head coach Jimmy Johnson took to calling them, "The big play triplets."
The 2004 edition of the Hartselle Tigers has a big play trio of their own. Seniors Justin Youngblood, Seth Watson and Chris Wiley are making all the big plays so far this season.
In the season opening win over Austin, tailback Youngblood scored on a 52-yard run while quarterback Watson connected with receiver Wiley on a 55-yard touchdown pass.
In week two, Youngblood scored on a 56-yard run and caught a 55-yard scoring pass from Watson. Watson himself scored on a 93-yard run. The run is the longest play from scrimmage for Hartselle this season.
In week three against Russellville, Wiley while playing his safety position on defense picked off a Golden Tiger pass and raced 99 yards for a score. The trio has scored all but two of the Tigers' touchdowns this year.
Why are the three Tigers making so many big plays this season?
"I really think we have a ball control offense," Youngblood said. "I don't think our offense is really set up for the big play. So I'm not sure why we've had so many this year."
Head coach Bob Godsey thinks the big plays are a result of the effort the group is putting in during practice.
"They've worked hard on the little things," Godsey said. "The big plays are just a reward for all the work."
The quarterback attributes part of the trio's success to familiarity with the offensive system.
"This is our second year in coach Godsey's offense," Watson said.
"We have a better understanding of the system and we know how to attack a defense no matter how they line up."
Youngblood thinks the offensive balance the Tigers have shown this season, benefits all three players and causes defenses headaches.
"Defenses can't key on any one thing against us," Youngblood said. "If they key on the run, Seth can throw to Chris and he's a threat on every play. But, if the defenders key the pass, I think we can hurt them with our running game."
The trio has played on the same baseball and football teams since seventh grade. A fact they think contributes to the success of the Tiger's offense.
"We really trust each other," Youngblood said. "All three of us know the other two are going to be doing what they're supposed to do on each play. That helps so much in a team game."
"You work harder and play harder when your teammates are your friends," Watson said.
"All three of us are close friends and we put a lot into practice, because we don't want to let our friends down during the game," Wiley said. "We all want to win and we know winning starts with doing things the right way in practice."
Wiley feels the three seniors have to set an example for younger Tiger players.
"As seniors we have to be leaders," Wiley said. "If a younger guy does something wrong in practice, we help him out by showing him the correct way to do it."
Besides leadership, Watson feels the other two have one important asset in common.
"Their speed is the key to all our long gainers," Watson said. "If Youngblood finds a hole, he's gone, he has that breakaway speed. Then Wiley's got the speed to take it all the way any time he catches the ball."
What would be the outcome if the three faced off in a 100-yard dash?
All three agree it would be a close race between two of the three, Watson explained.
"It would be really close between Chris and Justin. One of those two would edge the other one out.
"I know I'd be way behind in third place," Watson said laughing.