HARTSELLE — Postseason atmosphere?
The idea has almost become old hat for Hartselle High. For the Tigers, almost every week has been a high-stakes game.
But that’s the life for a team playing in Class 5A, Region 8, where nothing has come easy this season.
Just how competitive was the region? Well, only one playoff seed was decided after seven region games, which means Week 10’s non-region rivalries now have postseason stakes.
That includes Hartselle’s annual rivalry game against Class 6A Austin. Because of the Alabama High School Athletic Association tiebreaker scenarios, it’s become arguably one of the biggest games in the state this week.
“If we win, we’re the No. 2 seed (in Class 5A, Region 8),” Godsey said. “If we lose, we’re the No. 4 seed. It’s that simple.”
High stakes, indeed.
The same can be said for Austin. After winning seven straight games and climbing to No. 4 on the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 6A football poll, the Black Bears now find themselves on the outside after back-to-back losses to Florence and Bob Jones.
Getting back into the win column and carrying some momentum into the playoffs is important to Austin, which travels to Pell City for the opening round of the Class 6A playoffs.
“This is a rivalry game, and it’s a team that beat us pretty good last year,” Perkins said. “There’s a little extra motivation from that aspect. But the most important thing for us this week is that we worry about Austin, and getting better as a team. Coming off these two losses, you want to shake that off and regain some of that confidence that we had earlier in the year.”
The stakes aren’t lost on Hartselle’s players. According to Tigers quarterback Deacon Aldridge, the playoff scenarios have been discussed.
But that doesn’t mean the Tigers are pressing. The grueling grind of playing in the ultra-competitive Class 5A, Region 8 has created a tolerance for high-pressure situations.
“I can say that without a doubt,” Aldridge said. “This season has been a grind. Every week seems like it’s a big game. But I know this: we’re having a great week of practice, and the attitude has been great. This is a team that looks forward to challenges.”
“With the schedule that we’ve played, which has been extremely tough, you’d hope that experience would benefit our players in games like this,” he said. “We want to be sharp. And I believe in my heart, if we do the little things right, that we’ll have a chance.
“Austin has the most athletic and the fastest team that we’ve seen all season. They bring new challenges that we haven’t seen. But our guys are excited, but this is like another playoff game for us. That’s the way we’re approaching it.”
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