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RHS clinches second-straight region title with shut-out win

Neither a heavy rain nor the East Limestone Indians could stop the Russellville Golden Tigers from winning their second-straight Class 5A, Region 8 football championship Friday night.

RHS got five touchdowns from the rushing attack and another through the air to earn a 42-0 victory. The Russellville defense got their fourth shutout of a region opponent this season, and the eighth-ranked in Class 5A Golden Tigers improved their record to 7-1 and 5-0 in the region.

East Limestone fell to 5-1 in the region, which is good enough to clinch second place in the group of seven teams.

Russellville has two games remaining in the regular season schedule and is slated to host Lee-Huntsville for senior night Oct. 21 to wrap up regular season region play.

“We don’t play for second … We play to win the region every year,” said Russellville head coach John Ritter. “That’s the standard, and that’s the expectation. That’s why we work like we work: to win the region and not just make the playoffs.”

The first score of the night at East Limestone was setup by a first-quarter interception by Russellville senior linebacker Gavin Slay. Two plays later, Conner Warhurst scored the first of his three touchdowns of the game on a 52-yard run.

The wet field and rain throughout most of the contest didn’t bother Manny Martinez, who made all of his extra-point kick attempts. His first of the night gave the Golden Tigers a 7-0 lead with 3:07 remaining in the opening quarter.

The following kickoff by Martinez was fumbled by the East Limestone returner, and Boots McCulloch was on the spot and able to recover the loose ball.

A fourth-down conversion run by TJ King, followed on the next play by a 20-yard carry by Warhurst, gave RHS a 14-0 advantage early in the second period.

The next East possession was short-lived, and a punt into the bleachers gave Russellville field position near the 50-yard-line. Warhurst found the end zone again on the next play for a 49-yard run to pay dirt.

Russellville’s stingy defense held the Indians on a fourth-down try on the next drive, and it only took the Golden Tigers three plays to score again. Gabe Amick threw a 69-yard touchdown pass to Randell Johnson to give RHS a 28-0 lead, which the Golden Tigers later took into the halftime break.

Russellville’s offensive line continued to show strength in the second half, and Boots McCulloch scored touchdowns on runs of 64 and 13 yards to make sure the game was put away.

A fourth-quarter East Limestone fumble was recovered by Jerrin Jackson of RHS to help preserve the shutout.

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