Play-off season arrives for Hartselle, Priceville
The regular season is over, and now it is time for a five-week shootout for the famed Blue Map that will be raised by the winner of the state championship game.
Two local teams will be playing for a chance at the blue map starting Nov. 5.
The Hartselle Tigers will be making their 39th appearance in the playoffs since they began in 1974. They previously won a state championship in 2011 when they defeated Vigor 13-3 to finish 15-0.
“We are excited to be in the playoffs and ready to get started,” said Hartselle coach Bryan Moore. “This is a new season for us, and outside of seeding, what we did in the regular season doesn’t matter. We have to be our best in November and December.”
The Tigers (10-0) will host fourth-seeded Gardendale (8-2) to open the playoffs.
“Gardendale is the best team we’ve played this year. This is more like a third-round matchup than a one vs. four seed,” said Moore. “They were in a three-way tie for second and ended up fourth. Region 6 is the best in 6A, so this will be a great challenge for us.”
Hartselle enters the high-powered offensive contest averaging 47 points per game, third-best in Class 6A, while the Rockets average 28.1 points per game.
“Offensively, they have a great running back and quarterback,” said Moore. “They have been able to run the ball on everyone they have played.”
Defensively, the Tigers are giving up 16.9 points per game, while Gardendale is allowing 18.3.
“Defensively, they have several players who will play college ball when their high school days are over,” said Moore. “We will have to find matchups and be extremely balanced to move the ball.”
Hartselle leads the all-time series 5-3, with the last six matchups, including this season, coming in the playoffs.
The Bulldogs will be making their fourth appearance in the playoffs. They advanced to the second round for the first time in school history in 2019.
The Region 8 No. 2 seeded Bulldogs (9-1) will host Etowah (6-4), the No. 3 seed from Region 6.
“Etowah is always a talented football team,” said Priceville coach Chris Foster. “This year’s team is talented, but unfortunately, their record does not paint a good picture of how talented they are. They have losses to a couple of 6A and 7A teams, along with one of the best private schools out of Tennessee.”
Priceville enters the contest as the third highest-scoring team in Class 4A, averaging 40.8 points per game. Etowah averages 25.4 points per game.
Defensively the Bulldogs are giving up 19.6 points per game, while the Blue Devils are allowing 20.7.