Friday, September 1
R.D. Hicks Stadium - Stevenson
SERIES: Cullman 2-1
LAST TIME: Cullman defeated North Jackson 45-14 in 2016
LAST WEEK: Cullman lost to Hartselle 31-25
North Jackson defeated Walter Welborn 21-20
COACH: Mark Britton (17th year) (130-61)
FLASH NOTES: Unable to hold on to the lead, Cullman was knocked off by its arch rival for the fourth straight year. The Bearcats gave up a 99-yard kickoff return inside the final 3:00 after Miguel Tizapa had tied the score with a field goal.
Cullman has a long trip well into Jackson County, visiting the Chiefs for the first time since 2003 when they shut them out on Halloween, 30-0.
The Bearcats were able to last year display an offensive attack that could not be contained by North Jackson in running away to a huge victory.
Cullman has to step up in every phase this week, knowing the challenges will become more intense when they enter 6A, Region 7 play the following week with a game at home against Albertville then on to Oxford September 15.
At J.P. Cain Stadium - Hartselle
Cullman 0 7 7 0 - 14
Hartselle 7 7 0 14 - 28
Hart - Briten Barclay 15 run (Bryon Munoz kick) 4:48 in 1st
Hart - Cal George 4 run (Munoz kick) 6:06 in 2nd
Cull - Max Dueland 30 pass to Isaiah Jones (Luke Andrews kick) 0:00 in 2nd
Cull - Jaylen Hughey 2 run (Andrews kick) 6:20 in 3rd
Hart - George 17 pass to Nathanial Wiley (Munoz kick) 5:57 in 4th
Hart - George 21 pass to Sebastian Alexander (Munoz kick) 2:44 in 4th
Cullman got on the scoreboard on the final play of the first half when Dueland threw a hail mary to Jones who caught the ball surrounded by three Hartselle defenders in the left side of the end zone. That closed the margin to 14-7 at the half after Cullman had penalties and Hartselle began four consecutive possessions inside the Bearcat 50-yard line.
Getting good field position to open the third quarter, the Bearcats moved downfield thanks to a 50-yard run by Hughey to the Hartselle five. He scored two plays later and the game was even at 14-14.
Cullman forced Hartselle to punt then punted the ball back to the Tigers with Hartselle starting at the Cullman 40 and early in the fourth, going back on top to stay. George was four of four in passing during the fourth, gaining 49 yards and hitting TD passes to Wiley and Alexander.
Wiley broke a tackle inside the Cullman 10 and went on in for the score. Alexander made a diving catch in the left side of the end zone on a slant pass that extended the Tigers' lead to 14 points.
Cullman finished with a good drive from its 35, reaching the Hartselle eight before a penalty backed them outside the 10. Dueland was tackled on fourth down, losing the ball with the Tigers recovering at the 18 and running off the clock on the next snap.
The Bearcats produced 206 yards total offense with Dueland completing 10 passes in 22 attempts for 69 yards and a TD. Cullman netted 137 rushing, led by Hughey with 82 yards. Alex Shepard gained 21 yards while Dueland accounted for 31 on four rushing attempts.
Hartselle managed 190 yards offense, 104 through the air. Barclay gained 51 yards and scored a touchdown.
Cullman QB Max Dueland gets the snap from C Gage Butler in 1st quarter Monday.
Sportspage photo by Johnny Thornton
Friday, August 25
Oliver Woodard Stadium - Cullman
KICKOFF: 7:00 p.m.
SERIES: Hartselle 46-45-4
LAST TIME: Hartselle won 27-17 in 2016
COACH: Mark Britton (17th year)
RECORD AT CULLMAN: 130-60
2016 SEASON: 6-5, 4-2 in 6A, Region 7
FLASH NOTES: Hartselle comes to Cullman to open a football season for the first time since September 2, 1966 when the Bearcats knocked off their arch rival 28-13.
After both were relocated in different regions last year, coach Mark Britton and Hartselle's Bob Godsey came upon an agreement to keep the game on schedule and place it for the opener.
Hartselle has a 3-game winning streak vs. the Bearcats, coming to Woodard Stadium in 2015 and winning 14-13.
Britton's group has limited success with the Tigers. Cullman is 4-12 against Hartselle, with one victory coming in the 2007 playoffs. The last time the 'Cats took down the Tigers was by a 14-6 final at home in 2013.
This is Cullman's biggest rivalry, with the teams about to hook up for the 96th meeting overall. It is a signature game across North Alabama with both determined to come out of the gate flowing efficiently.
Cullman presents experience in the backfield that will be a key for the Bearcats to try and get the series even.
Cullman plays good football on opening night, with a 13-3 record in season openers while Britton has been in command at his alma mater. Britton was a winner the final time he faced Hartselle, helping the Bearcats to a 36-28 triumph on the road in the opening round of the 1979 AHSAA 3A state playoffs.
Woodard Stadium will be full of spectators with a tremendous atmosphere to kick off the new season.
Cullman Bearcats began the second week of fall practice Monday, moving ahead with the opener in 11 days against the Hartselle Tigers at Oliver Woodard Stadium.
Coach Mark Britton is hoping the weather will cooperate for the Bearcats to get in some good contact work during the week.
Hartselle leads the all-time series 46-45-4 with three consecutive victories. The Bearcats are playing the Tigers in the opener in Cullman for the first time since 1966.
Hartselle claimed a 27-17 victory last season at a rainy J.P. Cain Stadium as the series was moved to opening night for AHSAA football.
Cullman coach Mark Britton watching the Bearcats work out on August 11.
Sportspage photo by Johnny Thornton.