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Hartselle Enquirer

Lang returns for dream job

Will Lang coaches during a team session this summer. Lang will coach quarterbacks this fall for the Tigers. | Caleb Suggs
Will Lang coaches during a team session this summer. Lang will coach quarterbacks this fall for the Tigers.
| Caleb Suggs

Caleb Suggs

Hartselle Enquirer

 

When former Hartselle quarterback Will Lang injured his shoulder in college and hung up his helmet for good, he didn’t get disappointed, as he knew this wasn’t the end for him. “I didn’t really take it as hard as others might have,” Lang said “I knew that even though my playing career was over that I wasn’t done with football.” Lang has pursued his teaching career while at UNA and now that he has graduated, he is set to teach and coach the sport he fell in love with at a very young age. To make things even better, Lang is set to coach at the place where he learned everything he knows which is Hartselle High School.

Much like a lot of players that come through Hartselle, Lang had an early influence to football. “My dad coached football when I was younger,” Lang said.“When I got to a certain age he decided he didn’t want to go through the long hours anymore and decided to just coach my age groups.” Despite this, Lang was exactly thrilled about playing football to begin with. “I was scared to play at first, I had seen the high school games and all the big hits and I just didn’t think that was for me.” Eventually Lang would give in to playing football and he would realize that he loved it.

Lang’s love and drive to be good in football would eventually lead him to the varsity at Hartselle High School. The Tigers were coming off one of their most successful seasons in school history as they went 11-2 with a trip to the state quarterfinals where the eventual state champion Athens Golden Eagles narrowly defeated them. However, the 2007 season didn’t go quite like the previous season had. The Tigers went 4-6 in the regular season. “Honestly that might have been the most athletic team I’ve ever played on” Lang said, “I think their was just too much off the field stuff that brought us down. Too many people that weren’t doing what they were preaching at practice.” Despite this, Hartselle still managed to advance to the playoffs were they played their rival Cullman who was undefeated. The Tigers were  narrowly defeated 42-41 and Cullman went on all the way to the semi-finals.

After that season, the Tigers were determined to not let that happen again. “One day Coach (Bob) Godsey came in, slammed the door and said that things were about to change around here,” Lang said. “After that everything just picked from the workouts to the intensity and people just started working harder.” What would result would be a record-breaking season for the Tigers as they went undefeated in the regular season. Along the way, they would also defeat Russellville for the first time in almost three decades. “We hadn’t beat Russellville in I want to say around 28 years” Lang said “they had sort of become our biggest rival at that time and to get that win at their stadium was an awesome feeling.” The Tigers would eventually fall in the quarterfinals but the impact that season couldn’t be taken away.

The very next year, Lang would face his biggest challenge as he took over the starting quarterback job. “I didn’t start the season very well. I didn’t play good the first three games,” Lang said. “It was when Coach Godsey said he overheard someone say I was missing too many open receivers that I changed. I think the next game I went 14/15 with like three or four touchdowns.” That following game would turn out to be against rival Russellville. “That game was a lot different than the year before,” Lang said. “In ‘08 I felt like we had the better team but in ‘09 we were the underdogs.” As the Tigers picked up the number 1 ranking in class 5A, they would run into their first roadblock when they met Muscle Shoals. “I don’t want to say we didn’t prepare for them like we should but we had beaten them by 38 points the year before and I think we underestimated how pumped they would be for us,” Lang said. “I’ll never forget their stadium announcer coming over the speakers saying that they were beating the Number 1 ranked Hartselle Tigers at halftime.” Despite the 17-14 loss Hartselle still claimed the region title and advanced to the quarterfinals once again before McAdory defeated them. “I felt like we lost that game more than they won it, mostly because I threw three interceptions,” Lang said “but that game helped me learn that you have to be ready to play through hostile environments.”

The next year, Lang and the rest of the seniors were determined to get past the quarterfinal curse. The Tigers got off to a hot start as they went 9-1 with a region title. However, many people started questioning whether or not they would be able to make it as a questionable performance against Pinson Valley in the first round raised some eyebrows. “People get all obsessed with numbers and saw that we won 35-27,” Lang said “but in reality we were up 35-0 when we put the backups in.” Hartselle would silence the critics the next week when they dominated Cullman 27-6. The Tigers would then advance to the quarterfinal where they would defeat Russellville to finally defeat the curse. “To finally get past that curse and to do it against Russellville was pretty special.” Hartselle would end up losing in overtime the next week but the groundwork the 2011 seniors laid, helped the Tigers win the state championship the very next year.

After high school, Lang attended UNA were he played football for the Lions. However, a second injury to his shoulder forced him to hang up his helmet for good. From there, Lang focused on his teaching degree and started his student teaching he was given the opportunity to return home to Hartselle. “Coach Godsey called and asked if I would like to come do my student teaching there and help coach,” Lang said “Of course my answer was absolutely.” Lang’s job wasn’t easy to start with as he was forced to handle a quarterback situation, that featured a three year starter and a back up with plenty of talent who was chomping at the bit for playing time. “It wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to handle,” Lang said “but luckily they had a great relationship and were willing to do what it took to help the team not themselves which helped a lot.” After finishing his degree, Lang took a job in Memphis to be a teacher and coach. “I’m not one who likes to just wait around for things to happen” Lang said, “I want to go out and make it on my own.”

However, it wouldn’t be long before Lang got the call to return home. Now he will be teaching science at the Hartselle Junior High and coaching quarterbacks for the varsity football team. Lang is excited to be back home and excited to help the Tigers get back to the success they had when he was playing. “The intensity this summer has been amazing” Lang said “these guys are tired of getting stick in the first round and are ready to do something about it.”

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