5A powers to meet this week
Top-ranked Hartselle will be facing a new look Russellville offense when the two teams square off Friday at J.P. Cain Stadium in the quarterfinals of the Class 5A football playoffs.
Gone is quarterback Joey Howe.
Ditto for wide receiver Jake Ward and a strong group of seniors that played last year when the Golden Tigers met up with Hartselle last. Russellville suffered a 27-13 loss to Hartselle in the regular season, but still managed to reach the Class 5A state championship game for the fifth time in the last eight seasons.
Russellville lost to Demopolis 27-14 in the final at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa as head coach Doug Goodwin was looking for his first state championship at the school.
Still loaded with talent on both sides of the football, the Russellville offense has a familiar face in one of the state’s top running backs. Hartselle’s defense will have to contain senior tailback Brent Calloway to stop the Golden Tigers’ offense. The Alabama commitment needs just 20 more yards on the ground this season to come close to the 2,000-yard mark.
Calloway is one of the state’s top players in any classification. He comes into the Hartselle game with 1,797 rushing yards and 25 rushing touchdowns after picking up 92 yards on 12 carries for three touchdowns in last week’s win over Athens in the second round. He is averaging 149 yards per game this season.
Russellville, ranked fourth in the state, has switched to a run-based offense this season to get the ball in Calloway’s hands.
Russellville, just like its third-round opponent, has won seven straight since falling to a non-region opponent in the fifth week of the season. The Golden Tigers’ only stumble this season came at the hands of Walker, a team Hartselle beat 10-7 earlier in the season in a Region 6 game.
Devin Parker transferred to Russellville this season from Hatton and the quarterback has stepped in to throw for 715 yards with 11 touchdowns. He has also thrown five interceptions.
Parker has piled up 436 yards rushing this season.
Parker’s favorite target is Calloway, but he has also completed 15 passes to Darrien Graham for 245 yards and three touchdowns.