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RHS football competes in 7-on-7 to test skills

Seven high school football teams, including the Russellville Golden Tigers, got valuable off-season practice time July 11 in a 7-on-7 competition hosted by Florence High School.

RHS and Florence were joined by Sheffield, Mars Hill, Wilson, North Jackson and Giles County, Tenn., Teams were all looking to improve both offensively with the passing game and defensively on coverages and communication.

“We had a great day today,” said Russellville head coach John Ritter. “Coach Hester puts on a fine 7-on-7. We had a really, really good competition, and I think it was a great learning experience for some of our younger guys about the importance of staying focused – the importance of doing what you’re supposed to do all of the time.”

The squads all took part in a morning session that included scrimmages in a round-robin format on the practice fields at Florence High.

The teams were then seeded into an afternoon tournament, with Russellville advancing to the semifinals before losing to eventual champion Florence. The Falcons faced Sheffield in the finals and defeated the Bulldogs to take first place.

Russellville’s first game of tournament play was a 34-31 win over defending 1A state champion Mars Hill.

The Panthers scored first on a touchdown pass. Russellville’s first possession ended with an interception on the next play, and Mars Hill quickly struck again for a TD. The Golden Tigers then got things going their way with a drive that included a nice throw and catch from Jacob Bishop to Nathan Brockway and then a touchdown completion from Bishop to JD Price.

After another Mars Hill score, Bishop completed four of five passes, including a touchdown toss to Rowe Gallagher. The RHS defense followed with a stop on downs, and one throw from Bishop got the Golden Tigers back into the end zone.

The following try-for-two was successful when a deflected pass was hauled in by Cole Barnett.

The Panthers again answered with a TD of their own, but Russellville came back with a Bishop-to-Gallagher touchdown, followed by a two-point conversion by Brockway.

Caden Watts intercepted a Mars Hill pass attempt for a huge play for the RHS defense to end a late scoring threat and give the Golden Tigers the victory.

In the semifinal matchup against Florence, RHS fell to the Falcons by a 31-7 final score. The Golden Tigers scored on their fourth possession of the contest when Bishop found Bryant Hyde for a touchdown.

“Jacob has looked good,” Ritter said of the RHS quarterback. “I think he’s understanding what we’re trying to do. We’re breaking in a new tailback, we’re breaking in a new H-back, and we’ve got six guys at wide out that we feel really, really good about.

“I know Rowe and Cole started last year, but we’ve got guys that are pushing them to be better,” Ritter added. “Bryant Hyde has had a heck of a summer and spring, and he’s a guy that’s pushing both of those guys for playing time. TJ King is a ninth-grader who is going to play some on Friday nights, and I like to see some of the competition that we’ve got going on right now.”