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Hartselle Enquirer

Tigers one win from 5A finals

Two weeks, two rivals.
Two victories.
But now Hartselle faces its biggest game of the season Friday when the Tigers host Briarwood Christian in the Class 5A semifinals.
Guarding against a letdown – or a sense of accomplishment – will be foremost on the minds of the Hartselle coaches this week.
“You trust them. You just trust them,” said Hartselle head coach Bob Godsey after the Tigers’ impressive victory over Russellville last Friday. “As coaches, we try our best to put them in a position to be successful and you trust them to do what they need to do. You just trust that they are not satisfied and that they’re hungry to move on.”
Standing in the Tigers’ path to Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium for the Class 5A championship will be perennial power Briarwood Christian, a team more than familiar with semifinal battles. The Lions have won four of seven semifinal games in the school’s history.
Briarwood Christian, under the direction of legendary coach Fred Yancey has won five state championships, including the 2003 title.
The Lions come into Friday’s game with Hartselle with a 12-1 record. Only a 34-10 loss to Class 6A Vestavia Hills kept the Lions from a perfect regular season.
Since that fifth-week loss, the Lions have won eight straight games, including last week’s 30-7 trouncing of previously unbeaten Fort Payne.
“You know what you’re getting with Briarwood Christian,” said Hartselle head coach Bob Godsey. “You’re getting a top-notch program and you’re getting Coach Yancey, who is one of the best coaches in the state.”
Yancey, now in his 21st season as the Lions’ head coach, has won 217 games at Briarwood Christian.
With a roster filled with 16 seniors, Briarwood Christian rolled through the Region 5 schedule unbeaten for the second straight year. But it might be the Lions’ non-conference schedule that is so impressive. The Lions opened the season with a 23-13 victory over defending Class 5A state champion Demopolis.
Ben Craft, a first-year starter at quarterback, threw for 134 yards and a touchdown against Fort Payne in the quarterfinals matchup. He also ran for another score.
The Lions’ defense is led by defensive end Caleb Ward, who is starting up front for the fourth straight season. Teamed with senior defensive lineman Tyler Whitworth, Ward gives the Lions a solid run stopper and pass rusher.

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