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Golden Tigers take down Fairview to win third-straight football region title

The Russellville High School Golden Tigers are football region champions for the third consecutive season.

RHS went to Fairview for the first time Friday night almost a year after the Aggies got a second-round play-off win over the Golden Tigers in their only other meeting on the gridiron.

This time, the two teams entered the contest with identical 5-0 records in Class 5A Region 8.

The Golden Tigers used a familiar formula in 2022 to get the 41-14 victory: a big-play offensive attack and a hard-hitting defense.

Fairview got on the board first after the two teams traded punts on their first possessions of the game. The Aggies claimed a 7-0 advantage with 3:12 left on the firs- quarter clock on a three-yard quarterback run.

Russellville needed only two plays to answer when Conner Warhurst ran 65 yards for a score. The first of five successful extra-point kicks by Manny Martinez evened things at 7-7.

FHS then put together a six-play scoring drive that ended on the first play of the second quarter. A 31-yard TD pass put the Aggies ahead for the final time of the night at 14-7.

The next Russellville snap from scrimmage resulted in an interception by Fairview, but the Golden Tigers stopped the Aggies and forced a punt with the help of a tackle in the backfield by Matthew James.

Russellville’s quick-strike offense hit the Aggies through the air on the next play. Quarterback Harrison Burch threw to Randall Johnson for a 68-yard touchdown with 9:01 remaining in the opening half.

The Golden Tigers went ahead later in the second quarter when Burch found TJ King for a 69-yard TD pass to make the score 21-14. Fairview would then fumble the following kickoff, and Taylor Crumpton was on the scene to recover the loose football for the Golden Tigers.

Four plays later, Warhurst was into the end zone again – this time on an eight-yard carry.

Another special teams miscue hurt the Aggies on the next possession when a snap went over the head of the punter to put the Golden Tigers in scoring position again. Warhurst added his third TD of the night when he scored on a 5-yard run to make the score 34-14 with just over a minute to go in the first half.

A 12-play third quarter drive by Russellville finished the scoring, and Cam Phinizee got the touchdown on a three-yard run.

With the win, RHS improved to 6-3 on the season, with Senior Night coming up against Athens Oct. 28 for the regular season finale. The Golden Tigers will host Boaz the following week in round one of the AHSAA Class 5A playoffs.

“I’m so proud of our guys,” said Russellville head coach John Ritter. “Rough start, but we got better each week, and that’s what it’s all about. We won the games that matter, and that’s our first goal.

“We don’t ever talk about going undefeated,” he added. “We talk about owning our backyard and owning our region. Back-to-back-to-back sounds good.”