J.R. Tidwell/FCT Russellville freshman quarterback Landon Smothers (8) takes the ball into the end zone after a long run against West Point.

Archived Story

Two teams should make playoffs

Published 6:00am Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Russellville Golden Tigers have a rich tradition when it comes to football.

The Golden Tigers have competed in the playoffs  27 times with a combined record of 58-25.

That includes two state playoff titles and three mythical titles from a time before the playoff system was started.

The Golden Tigers have also made the postseason every year since 2000.

Russellville went 5-6 last season after a 30-7 first-round loss to Center Point.

The Golden Tigers will be looking to make a bigger splash in the 2012 addition of the Class 5A state playoffs.

That is, if they make the playoffs.

It is extremely likely that the team will do so after compiling a 5-2 overall record and 3-2 region record.

The only two losses have been to region foes Muscle Shoals and Cullman, and those two teams have only one loss between them (Cullman).

“We’re going one game at a time,” Russellville head coach Michael Jackson said.

“I was trying to see if it was mathematically possible for us not to make it, and we haven’t figured that part up.

“We looked at last Friday night as a playoff game.

“We’ve got to get better this week, and we’re looking at the next two weeks determining where we fall in the playoffs.”

Russellville has a chance to clinch a playoff berth against Lawrence County, who is 2-5, 0-5 on the season.

The only two wins so far this year for the Red Devils were a 13-12 victtory over 4A East Lawrence and a 7-0 win over 2A Hatton.

“Mathematically the game against Lawrence County clinches everything,” Jackson said.

“The way they figured it today, somebody else called and was talking about it, it may be clinched anyway.”

According to Jackson there is one possible scenario remaining that could keep his team from  making the postseason, albeit an unfeasible scenario

“Here’s the deal,” he said. “

“We haven’t looked so far into it, but we have a tiebreaker with East Limestone.

“If we lost the next two games and they won their next two games, then that would be the only scenario where we wouldn’t make it, and I’m not even sure on that.”

Making the postseason is a goal that every high school football team has in mind at the start of each season, and the Golden Tigers are no exception.

“Your goal at the beginning of the year is to make the playoffs and get into the tournament,” Jackson said.

“All of the best teams in the state will be in the playoffs, so you’re goal is to get to the end and play as well as you can play.

“You know that if you win on Friday night you get to play again next Friday night.”

While the question of whether or not Russellville will make the playoffs is still technically unanswered, Jackson knows what it will take for his team to finish the season strong and have a good showing in the postseason.

“We’ve got to keep getting better and better,” he said.

“Our goal this whole time was to get into the playoffs and then see where we’re positioned.

“We’ve still got a big game against Lawrence County this week and we’ve got a big game against Hartselle coming up.

“Those games will determine what seed we will be.

“We could still be No. 2, 3 or 4 seeds in the playoffs according to how these last few games turn out and how the other teams (in Class 5A Region 8) play each other, because there are still some big games left in this region.

“We’re going to take it one game at a time, we’ve got to keep momentum going through the end of the year and keep playing defense like we have been.”

Another county team that has a strong chance to make the 2012 postseason is the Red Bay Tigers.

The Tigers are currently  4-3 overall and 4-1 in region play. Two of Red Bay’s losses have come at the hands of 4As Central-Florence and Wilson.

The Tigers’ only defeat in the region came against 2A powerhouse Tanner, which currently sits at 7-0.

Red Bay is no stranger to the playoffs either, having made the postseason every year since 1999 and 22 times total.

The Tigers have a 20-22 overall record in the playoffs, no state titles in the playoff era and one mythical title before the inception of the tournament.

Red Bay made it to the second round last year before falling to Fultondale 27-15.

This Friday night’s match-up against the Lexington Golden Bears may prove to be an important game in the Tigers’ quest for the 2012 postseason.

The Golden Bears lead the series all-time with a 12-7 record, but it was Red Bay that won last year’s meeting by a score of 24-7.

Lexington is 4-3, 3-2 on the year, with two of those region losses coming at the hands of region foes Sheffield and Tanner.

Red Bay’s 4-1 region mark may have already punched the Tigers’ ticket to the playoffs, but nothing is certain yet at this point.

“I’m not 100 percent sure if we’ve clinched yet,” Red Bay head coach John Ritter said.

“I really haven’t even looked at it to be honest.”

Even though Red Bay may not have already clinched a postseason spot, the game against Lexington still remains an important piece of the puzzle.

“If we win Friday night (against Lexington) we’re second in the region,” Ritter said. “That means we would host the first round.

“I think it would be a special thing. To host a playoff game is always good for the community, the kids and the school.”

The Tigers have turned the 2012 season into a positive one even after going through two head coaches during the summer and losing the first two games of the year.

“I’m very pleased.,” Ritter said.

“We’ve gotten better and better each week, and I couldn’t be more proud of these guys.

“I’ve got a great team and a great staff, and any time you can get in the playoffs you’re happy, and once you get there you want to make some noise.”

Once a team reaches the playoffs, everyone’s record becomes a blank slate yet again at 0-0. The tournament is single-elimination, so each team is in control of it’s own destiny. The team either wins each week or goes home.

It’s a team’s record that gets them to the postseason, but after the tournament starts a record becomes nothing more than an indication of how good a team really is, because nothing is ever certain during the playoffs.

“It’s one of those things where anything can happen,” Ritter said.

“It’s at the end of the season and it’s a one and done type scenario, and I feel with our strengths of running the football and playing good defense that we can make some noise in the playoffs and have some success if we get the breaks, we play hard and we limit our mistakes.”

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