MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — For episode four of On the Road with Olivia and Claudia, the girls go to Morgan County to check in on Hartselle and West Morgan.
Starting with the Tigers, head coach Bryan Moore and his guys are coming off another impressive season: a second straight undefeated regular season and a third-round playoff appearance.
Of course, every year is different and this season’s pack of Tigers is different than last year’s and they have a lot of questions to answer after losing a bunch of key players. Looking at his 2023 team so far, how would Coach Moore describe this year’s group in a word or two?
“Extremely resilient and gritty and I almost hate to use that word cause it kind of makes you feel like you’re the underdog but to a degree we are,” Moore said. “If you’re out there doing the bus test and these guys got off you’d probably pick the other group, but that’s sort of our history and that’s okay. We knew what we were getting into and these kids know what we’re doing and kind of what we are as well, so we’ll use it to our advantage we scrap and fight. We have to be tough, we have to execute at a really high level and not beat ourselves make plays when they’re there and play well in all three phases because we’re not going to overwhelm people athletically.”
Coach Moore wants to win because this is football after all, but it’s also important for him to build his players into great young men as well and he’s looking forward to doing that for a fourth straight year in Hartselle.
“It’s about championships and championship people. We’re trying to do things right. We’re not perfect human beings and we’re not perfect every day, but we’re trying to grow and make these experiences be really fun for them but also teach them high-pressure situations, wins and losses and success and that’s what it’s all about,” Moore said.
The West Morgan Rebels also found a great deal of success in 2022; last season featured a 9-1 regular season and second-round playoff appearance.
Like the Tigers, the Rebels know that their success last year doesn’t mean they’ll find the same amount this upcoming season but what did they learn in 2022 and what will they bring into 2023 from those achievements?
“These guys have earned the opportunity to be noticed as a team that’s got a lot of recognition moving forward,” head coach Drew Phillips said. “I think what we need to take is understanding that we want to build on that, but what’s happened before really doesn’t matter and that’s what we tell our team. We’re at a day at a time and this is a new team, new faces and new leadership so we’re hoping to learn from the things that we messed up on in the previous year and move forward and be better.”
Head coach Drew Phillips says one thing that’s already sticking out to him this year is the leadership. Phillips wants his program to be a player-led team and not a coach-led team – and he believes these guys are doing just that.
“These guys have really poured in, they’re experienced and they’ve played a lot of football. I know the locker room’s taken care of because of the leadership these guys have developed and what they’re doing with other people. They’re bringing young freshmen with them and they’re understanding we want a great team and we want a great program and they’re really buying into that so that’s exciting,” Phillips said.
Both Hartselle and West Morgan will begin their season on the road on Friday, August 25; The Tigers will take on Austin and the Rebels will face off against Randolph.