Athens-Hartselle is an old rivalry with a new flavor
Justin Schuver, Hartselle Enquirer
For the second time in three weeks, Hartselle coach Bob Godsey will stand on the sidelines at J.P. Cain Stadium and look across the field to see an old friend.
Two weeks ago, Godsey faced off against Decatur's Jere Adcock, who was an assistant along with Godsey on the same Decatur High School coaching staff.
This Friday, when the Hartselle Tigers take on the Athens Golden Eagles, Godsey will match wits with Allen Creasy, who was also an assistant coach with Godsey at Decatur and who has remained good friends with the Hartselle coach.
"It's really just another game," Godsey said of facing his friend. "He has his own program and we have our own program and we each do our own things. It has a little extra incentive for both coaches, obviously, because the winner gets bragging rights. So that adds a little more fuel to the rivalry."
Creasy has also tried to downplay the meeting of coaches in this weekend's game.
"Once the game starts it will be the same as any other game," he said. "Coach Godsey and I go back a long way. It's kind of like playing basketball in the back yard against your brother, you don't want to lose to him and I know he doesn't want to lose to me."
Hartselle and Athens was a longtime rivalry in the 1970s and 80s, a match-up of two similarly sized schools who were geographically close. But for whatever reason, the rivalry was not played from 1993 to 2001. It was only because of region play, which put both Hartselle and Athens in the same Region 8, that the rivalry was reborn.
"Athens and Hartselle had played for years, and then they kind of got away from it, so it's nice that they've brought the rivalry back," Godsey said.
Last season, the Tigers knocked off Athens 31-20. This year, both teams enter the contest with identical 3-1 region records and the opportunity to take a giant step toward excellent playoff position.
Godsey said that the biggest key against Athens will be controlling junior quarterback Rob Ezell. Ezell has led a potent Athens passing attack all season, and put his name in the record books in a 45-28 loss against Austin. Ezell's 433 yards against the Black Bears was the 10th-best individual passing performance in Alabama history.
"I think what Athens does best is when Ezell can run around and make some plays," Godsey said. "I think they're at their most dangerous when the play breaks down.
"We've got to be disciplined on defense; we're going to have our guys in position, they're just going to have to make the plays on defense."
Creasy said that after watching film of Hartselle, the thing that most stands out is the effort the Tigers put forth on the field in every play.
"They play extremely hard," he said. "They're a really good defense and very sound fundamentally. They're going to pound the ball, and as soon as you blink, they're gone."