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Two Franklin County teams remain undefeated

It is almost the halfway point in the season, and two Franklin County football teams are still riding a wave of success with undefeated seasons and top state rankings in the coach’s poll.

Red Bay rose to No. 10 in Class 2A last week with a win over Addison, and Russellville sits at No. 5 in Class 5A.

Russellville head coach John Ritter said his team expects success and works hard for it. He said his team bought into the team motto this year, “Don’t be interested, be committed,” and is constantly working to improve.

“To say that we expected to be where we are is kind of a double-edged sword because yes, we did, because our kids work extremely hard, and we’ve got a talented bunch,” Ritter said. “I don’t think we look at it pre-season and say ‘We’re going to be 4-0 or 8-1 or whatever.’ We just kind of look at it week by week. 

“We have a great group of kids, and if we work hard and execute on both sides of the ball, then we always have a chance to be successful.”

Red Bay head coach Michael Jackson said he has seen his team work hard for success, so it is exciting to see that hard work acknowledged.

“We’re real excited about how our guys are playing on both sides of the ball, and we’re very hopeful that the experience we’re gaining will really pay off toward the end of the year,” he said.

Although Ritter said it is nice to know coaches view Russellville as a strong team, the Golden Tigers’ goal is to win one game at a time, so state rankings do not hold much value.

“That’s just kind of a dog-and-pony show because that doesn’t get us into the playoffs,” Ritter said. “That doesn’t get us anything other than our name written next to a five on the internet. We don’t really acknowledge that we are ranked fifth.”

Ritter said each week is a chance for his team to grow and acknowledge mistakes made in each game.

“Just because we beat Deshler didn’t mean we were going to beat Corner, and just because we beat Corner didn’t mean we were going to beat Hayden,” Ritter said. “I think our kids have done a phenomenal job of rising to the challenge and realizing that we have yet to play to our expectations.”

Jackson said his players have always had talent, but the victory two weeks ago over Addison allows his team to have a stronger mental game going into tough region play in a few weeks, including a road game against Sheffield and a road game against No. 7 Colbert County.

Red Bay had an off-week Friday to prepare for this week’s game against Belmont, while Russellville improved to 4-0 with a homecoming win over West Point.

Russellville will host Haleyville this week, and Red Bay will host Belmont before having back-to-back important region games, which will most likely determine whether the Tigers will travel or play at home for the first round of playoffs.