RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — As we gear up for the high school football season, News 19 will be previewing more than 40 of our Tennessee Valley programs in On the Road with Olivia and Claudia.
Episode 20 features the Russellville Golden Tigers and Phil Campbell Bobcats.
The Golden Tigers are coming off back-to-back region championships with a 9-3 2021 season.
The expectations in Russellville are always high; the program expects to play for region titles, they expect to make a push in the playoffs every year but head coach John Ritter wants to make sure his team does at least one thing year in and year out.
“Maximize our potential and if that’s eight wins hey that’s eight wins, if it’s 12 it’s 12, if it’s 15-0; we don’t ever talk about wins and losses it’s always maximizing our potential,” Ritter said. “If we do that, no matter when the season ends whether it’s the state championship or the first round you can’t be disappointed in the outcome.”
The Golden Tigers have 15 seniors this season and Ritter says it’s a group filled with incredible leadership and helps set his whole team up for success.
“While we’re smaller in our senior class, I think this is probably the most talented senior class that we’ve had at Russellville,” Ritter said. “I’d be willing to say in the 10 years of being a head coach this might be our most talented group.”
The Bobcats are coming off a 7-4 overall record and a season where they hosted a playoff game for the first time in 20 years. Head coach Kevin Barnwell says that success shows the level of commitment his players have and how they’ve helped steadily build this program up.
“You get four years in high school to play high school football and then for the majority of them they never get to put the helmet on again, so we try to emphasize the fact that this is your one opportunity in life or your one shining moment and so don’t let the opportunity pass you by,” Barnwell said.
The Bobcats’ motto is ‘be where your feet are’ and it’s a huge emphasis for this team; they know they can’t control the past and can’t look ahead to the future.
“We have to live in the present tense. We have to win this play, the current play that’s at hand, and then everything else will take care of itself,” Barnwell said. “That’s kind of been our mantra since we got there. When we first got there they were 1-9 perpetually so it was a thing where we just have to get where we’re competitive and so we had to be where our feet are.”
Both teams kick off on Friday, August 19 on the road; the Golden Tigers open the season against Grissom and the Bobcats will take on Hackleburg.