FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – We are headed back to the Shoals for episode thirteen of On the Road with Olivia and Claudia, talking with Phil Campbell and Russellville.
And there’s a new head coach at Phil Campbell high school, as Jacob Hamilton has been tasked with leading the Bobcats program that went 7-4 last season.
It’s a homecoming for Hamilton, as he left Tharptown to come coach for the school he used to play for growing up.
“I went there up until my 10th grade year and then I transferred to Russellville to finish up my last two years and then when coach Barnwell took the head coaching job, his second year he actually coached me at Russellville and so I was able to come volunteer in college and coach for him, I was the head junior varsity coach for these guys. I’ve got a little cousin that’s going there, I’ve got a little brother that’s going there and my whole family is from there so I’m super excited to be here and get to coach these guys and be back home at Phil Campbell,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton was just hired a few weeks ago, so he said right now he’s keeping a lot of things the same and leaning on his upperclassmen to help him with the transition.
“We’re going to do some things different schematically and we can tinker with things week to week, but for the most part of what they base out of and what the kids know, it’s easier for me to learn something than it is for 50 kids to learn something new,” Hamilton added. “I told these guys, y’all are my leaders and so hey y’all go teach them how to set up, y’all know what I like, y’all know what I’m expecting, go set them up, go teach them how to set it up and get everything ready and then lead by example. They responded extremely well, and we’ve got a great group of leaders up here to really lead this program into the right direction.”
Now, let’s head over to Russellville High School where the Golden Tigers are coming off of a 7-5 season and their third straight region championship. In fact, they’ve gone undefeated in Class 5A Region 8 for the past three years, so now the bar has been raised in Russellville.
“We take pride in winning our region, we’re going for our fourth straight championship, we haven’t lost a region game in three and a half years so those are all things that are important to us,” Russellville head coach John Ritter said.
The Golden Tigers did have a few tough games last season, losing by just one point to both Mars Hill and Athens, and losing by a touchdown to Deshler. But Ritter said they just need to focus on themselves as they get closer to game week.
“In our program, we’re the standard, how we play, how we handle ourselves. If we do our job and execute at a high level, if we prepare Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday like we’re supposed to, then the opponent, that’s the fun part. But when we don’t – we lose games. We give up a score with eight seconds, we give up a score with 45 seconds. So I think we’re our biggest opponent each week. As long as we handle our business then all of that will kind of take care of itself in October,” Ritter added.
Russellville will host Grissom to open the 2023 season on Aug. 25 while Hamilton will make his Phil Campbell head coaching debut that same day, as the Bobcats will face Hackleburg at home.