Quarterbacks are familiar competitors

Published 10:41 am Friday, October 26, 2012

By MICKEL PONTHIEUX / Sports Reporter

CALERA – Friday’s Calera-Jemison football game will no doubt be important to all involved.

At stake is home field advantage in the first round of the state playoffs, which will begin Nov. 9, not to mention that the region rivals are as close as a short drive up Highway 31.

But for Jacob Hatch and Zack Reneau, the contest will have even more meaning: Hatch and Reneau are their teams’ starting quarterbacks—and cousins.

“This week’s game is very important to me and my team,” Reneau said. “First off, it is the next game on our schedule. Second, it is a big region game that decides if we get a home playoff game in the first round.

“Third, it is Jemison. It is one of our biggest rivalries of the year. They are 5 minutes down the road from us, and we just don’t like each other very much.”

Reneau and Hatch like each other just fine—when they’re not on opposite sides of the football field.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Hatch said. “I’m close to Zack. We’re first cousins and grew up playing together.

“I always looked up to Zack. I learned a lot from him—a lot of positive things. He’s a great leader, and he can get a team going, I can tell you that.”

Calera (7-1 overall, 5-1 in Class 4A, Region 4 play) can clinch second place in the region and home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a win Friday. A win by Jemison (4-2, 5-3) could force a three-way tie for second place, and tiebreakers would decide the region standings.

Both teams have already assured themselves of a playoff berth.

The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Panther Stadium in Jemison.

Reneau, a senior, and Hatch, a junior, are not the only two cousins playing in the game. Hatch’s brother, Cade, a freshman, plays wide receiver and cornerback for Jemison.

The Hatches and Reneau attend The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Columbiana. Reneau said that he and Jacob usually talk about each other’s games on Friday, but pending the result of this week’s game the conversation could be different.

“It might be a little different this Sunday depending on who wins this game,” he said. “He and I are used to (playing against each other), we have grown up all our lives competing against each other.”

–Drew Granthum with The Clanton Advertiser contributed to this report.