Golden Tigers, Golden Eagles set to battle for No. 2 seed

By Staff
Scot Beard
The Russellville football team clinched a playoff berth last week, but is still unsure if it will host or travel during the first round of the state playoffs.
This week's home game against Athens, the region finale for both teams, will determine how Class 5A, Region 8 will be represented in the playoffs.
"It's about as big as it gets," said Russellville coach Doug Goodwin. "We've got a lot riding on it."
Hartselle has clinched the region title and Muscle Shoals is the fourth seed. The Golden Tigers and Athens are both 5-2 in region play.
The winner of this game will host a playoff game while the loser will travel in the first round.
While the opportunity to host a playoff game should be enough to pump up either team, Athens will get an extra boost because the Golden Eagles view Russellville as their biggest rivals.
"I think Athens wants to beat us more than anybody on their schedule," Goodwin said.
Athens features a balanced offensive attack that poses problems for opposing defenses.
Running backs Chris Cain and Jamaal Bess have both gained more than 300 yards this season and have combined to score eight touchdowns on the ground.
"Our philosophy is to stop the run and control the pass," Goodwin said of his team's defensive plans.
If they do shut down the run game, the Golden Tigers will have to contend with a quarterback, Stephen Rivers, that has not only thrown for 1,570 yards and 18 touchdowns, but is also the younger brother of NFL Pro-Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers.
Stephen Rivers has two main targets he prefers. Julius Jones leads the Golden Eagles with 40 catches for 649 yards and eight touchdowns while Cain has caught 29 passes for 517 yards and seven touchdowns.
"If you make mistakes coverage wise, they will make you pay for it," Goodwin said.
Russellville and Athens were in the same situation last season. The Golden Tigers won that game 35-20 and Nathan McAlister set a school record for receiving yards in a single game.
Athens has not defeated the Golden Tigers since 2000.
The Golden Tigers are averaging 27.5 points per game while holding opponents to only 12.3 points per game. Athens is allowing 14.75 points per game while scoring an average of 33 points.
Something has to give, and when it does the playoff picture will be perfectly clear.
The game begins at 7 p.m.