Archives for October 2012

Longhorns face unfamiliar foe in first round

LINDEN — Marengo Academy will go into Friday night’s first round AISA Class A playoff game as the No. 2 seed out of Region 2. But the Longhorns’ advantage may be limited to the fact that they get the first round contest at home.

Marengo will have to contend with an unfamiliar team it has never seen in the 42-year history of its program when the Abbeville Christian Generals come to call.

“They are a spread team. They like to spread you out and try and run the football. They are a double slot team with one back,” Marengo head coach Robby James said of Abbeville’s offensive scheme and the challenges it presents to the Longhorns. “They will get in a pistol look. They run option and zone read out of every formation you can think of, trips, quads, a lot of motion. It takes some time. We don’t see it a lot in our league. We see some spread but not a lot. The big thing is the quarterback they have back there running it. He is so fast. It puts a lot of pressure on your defense.”

Abbeville enters with a 7-3 record, riding a four-game win streak and having outscored its opponents 309-127 over the course of the season.

“They are a little bigger than us but everybody is. Their right tackle is 6-6, 365. Their left tackle is 6-1 and probably 255, 260,” James said. “They block from the up position. All the games I’ve seen, (the Abbeville quarterback) has been sacked one time.”

James pointed to his team’s offense as being key to its defensive success against Abbeville, citing the Longhorns’ need to put together sustained drives and keep the Generals’ playmakers on the sidelines.

“I would love to score early somehow. And then when you get the ball try to use that clock, keep the football and try to keep them off the field,” James said.

The Longhorns will host the Abbeville Christian Friday night at 7 p.m. at Linden Athletic Field.


Linden prepared for physical Southern Choctaw team

LINDEN — The Patriots will wrap up their regular season at home Thursday night in what could be their most physical game to date in 2012 as they take on Southern Choctaw.

“They’re fast, physical. They try to run right at you, around you, across you and between you,” Linden head coach Andro Williams said of the Indians. “They can beat people. They are going to be fast and physical defensively. You have to appreciate the kind of ball they play. We’ll have our hands full.”

Southern Choctaw enters the contest on a five-game winning streak, its last loss coming at the hands of Sweet Water in the form of a 14-8 setback Sept. 21.

The Sweet Water loss marked the third straight defeat for the Indians and sent the Silas squad to 1-3 on the year. Since then, SCHS has rolled up Class 5A Citronelle and a quartet of region teams on its way to grabbing the No. 4 seed in Class 2A, Region 1.

“They are sitting there with three losses in that region and they could easily have beaten any of those three football teams,” Williams said of the Indians. “They have got kids that play hard and get to that football in a hurry. Offensively, they can go the distance at any point in the game on any particular play.”

The contest will stand as the final tune-up for Linden as it prepares to host Kinston in round of the Class 1A state playoffs.

“I think they are huge,” Williams said of the impact the final regular season game on his team’s playoff preparations. “I haven’t been a part of a week 10 that we lost. But we see it as a playoff atmosphere and as a playoff type game. We’re still trying to get better at learning how to play. We’ve got several things that we can definitely preach to try to get better at as a team. We’re by far not where we’d like to be. We’ve still got a long way to go.”

The Patriots and the Indians are scheduled to kick off Thursday night at 7 p.m. in Linden.

DPD offers Halloween safety tips

It may be time for ghouls, goblins, tricks and treats, but the Demopolis Police Department is urging Halloween observers to be safe during the holiday.

“I would tell kids to wear light clothes. Do not eat candy prior to getting back home. Have somebody check the candy out and make sure it is safe. Any kind of fruit that is given to you by anybody, don’t eat it. I would discard that kind of stuff because it is unsafe,” Demopolis Police Department Chief Tommie Reese said. “We want everybody to have a good time but we live in a different day and time now where people do strange things to hurt people.”

Reese advised that trick-or-treating should take place from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday night. DPD officer will be patrolling the city to ensure the safety of trick-or-treaters as well as to keep an eye on would-be pranksters.

“Our officers will be out riding around to make sure everybody is having a safe and fun Halloween,” Reese said. “I’m going to have several officers out, some on overtime to help cover shifts and make sure I’ve got coverage over the whole entire city. We should have enough officers riding secondary streets to make sure that we don’t have any problems.”

The department also released its annual list of safety tips for Halloween.

• Children should have all treats carefully inspected before eating.

• Children should accept treats only at the doorway.

• Never enter a stranger’s home.

• Never invite children to enter your home.

• Children should never accept rides from strangers.

• Children should never take shortcuts through backyards or alleyways.

• Set a time limit for your children to be out on Halloween night.

• Children should travel in groups of three to five people.

• Adults should escort children while they trick-or-treat.

• Adult escorts and children should carry flashlights if possible.

• All fruit should be discarded unless you know the source is safe.

• Keep pets inside your home, or another safe place, on Halloween night.

• Children should walk and never run during trick-or-treating.

• Parents should know what route their children are taking within the neighborhood.

• All costumes should be made of light-colored, fire-proof, preferably reflectorized material.

• Props such as toy guns or swords should be make of pliable material.

• Realistic replica firearms should NEVER be used.

• Masks should only be worn if they are properly fitted and provide unobstructed breathing and visibility.

• Children should always use sidewalks and not the streets for walking.

• Children should look in all directions before crossing the street.

DHS Interact Club holds first inductions

The charter members of the Demopolis High School Interact Club include Sutton Aiken, Logan Boone, Asia Chancelor, Kayla Cochran, Taylor Cooper, Logan Etheridge, Paige Gandy, Morgan Godwin, Phillip Godwin, DeAndria Hicks, Elisha Merriweather, Bailey Petrey, Alicia Pickens, Jacqueline Renfroe, Emily Riffe, Jamiyiah Smith, Reid-Claire Stein and LaTimberly Washington.

Demopolis High School officially has a new Interact Club approximately five years after the last such group disbanded.

“Rotary Club has wanted to do that ever since it disbanded about five years ago. We really started talking about it in the early part of our last year’s Rotary year. We had the idea that we would start working toward establishing Interact again. It just so happened that it was just a little bit of a process with a lot of different things going on,” Demopolis Rotary Club member and former Rotary president Chris Petrey said. “This year we were able to go ahead and have some interest meetings. We were hoping for eight or 10 students to get in and be the charter members of the new Interact Club of Demopolis High School. We were very fortunate we had 18.”

Parents and members of the Demopolis Rotary Club gathered in the classroom at Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital Tuesday evening to witness the induction of the 18 charter members of the organization.

“We wanted to build leadership skills and personal integrity, help them to get more involved in the community and realize that community service is a great thing. Demonstrating respect for others and understanding the value of responsibility and hard work,” Petrey said of the goal of the Demopolis Rotary Club in helping to launch Interact. “We want them to have those skills necessary to join the workforce and the rest of the world and be productive.”

Rachel Etheridge receives her Interact pin as club sponsor from Demopolis Rotary Club member Chris Petrey.

While Rotary members will still be available to assist Interact, the 18 members of the group officially took ownership of the club Tuesday. Demopolis High School principal and Rotary member Leon Clark said he hopes the students involved will use their Interact opportunities to work with those around them.

“One of the biggest things is learning to work with your community. Rotary is a community-based organization that works with different groups,” Clark said.

Interact will function under the observation of faculty sponsor Rachel Etheridge, who said she was eager to be a part of the effort.

“I believe in the cause of the Rotarians and the good community and international service that they provide, so when Mr. Clark asked for a volunteer, I volunteered to help with it. I’m just a faculty representative because the kids are their own, self-governing body,” Etheridge, who bestowed each inductee with an Interact pin as part of the ceremony, said. “I would like to see them learn the importance of community service and what it means to put someone else’s needs above their own and learn how fulfilling it is to help other people.”

Demopolis High School Interact Club officers include Sutton Aiken (treasurer), Bailey Petrey (president), LaTimberly Washington (vice president) and Paige Gandy (secretary).

The charter members of the Demopolis High School Interact Club include Sutton Aiken, Logan Boone, Asia Chancelor, Kayla Cochran, Taylor Cooper, Logan Etheridge, Paige Gandy, Morgan Godwin, Phillip Godwin, DeAndria Hicks, Elisha Merriweather, Bailey Petrey, Alicia Pickens, Jacqueline Renfroe, Emily Riffe, Jamiyiah Smith, Reid-Claire Stein and LaTimberly Washington.

The club also announced its officer Tuesday. Bailey Petrey is the club’s first president. LaTimberly Washington will serve as vice president while Paige Gandy acts as secretary and Sutton Aiken serves as treasurer.

Nickerson indicted for murder Tuesday

Frencheise Nickerson was indicted for murder Tuesday morning in connection with  the Sept. 3 slaying of 28-year-old Pine Hill resident Kalion Gladney.

Nickerson, 39, of Pine Hill is believed to have shot Gladney multiple times while the victim sat in his vehicle outside the 4 Way Stop convenience store located at the intersection of U.S. Hwy 43 and Alabama Hwy 10 in Dixon’s Mills. The incident occurred Sept. 3 at approximately 1 a.m.

“He was arrested and charged with murder. He has been indicted now for murder. I think he will be arraigned some time in mid December and then it will go on the criminal docket for trial. Hopefully by either the second term of next year or the last term of 2013, we can get it resolved, if not before,” District Attorney Greg Griggers said of the case. “I’m very confident that the evidence we have in this case will prevail.”

The case is one of two outstanding murder cases in Marengo County. The other is the case of Phillip Rogers, who is facing Capitol Murder and Kidnapping I charges following the Oct. 11, 2010 death of 46-year-old Sweet Water resident Paula Winters, whose body was found in the Tombigbee River between Nanafalia and Lavaca. Rogers, 30, of Sweet Water is awaiting trial while the prosecution in the case attempts to work past hurdles involving the victim’s DNA, the original sample of which was compromised as a result of the time her body spent in the water.

“I, quite frankly, don’t understand it. I know that her body had been in the water for a period of time, but I’ve never had that compromise DNA before. I don’t really know that there was an excuse for it, but, nonetheless, it did. So, what we had to do was come back behind that and provide forensics with what we hope is another DNA reference standard from our victim from some other items that we were able to collect and submit. If they were able to generate another genetic profile from those items for our victim, then the comparison is going to be totally different,” Griggers explained. “We’re just waiting to get these issues resolved before we go to trial.”

Plea entered in 2008 murder case

Darius Powell, one of the gunmen involved in the 2008 murder of Demopolis’ Randy Warren, pled guilty to manslaughter charges earlier this month.

Powell, who was 16 when he and Jeffery Williams entered Warren’s home on Feb. 16, 2008, entered the plea Monday, Oct. 15 as his case on murder charges was about to be retried.

“I had offered to plead him to manslaughter way back when this case originated after he was indicted for murder, the main reason being that his version of what happened inside my victim’s house was consistent with the physical evidence that we had. He admitted that he shot my victim but he contended that he didn’t shoot him and kill him and shot him just to break up a fight that was going on between the victim and another person that was with him, Jeffery Williams, who has also been charged,” District Attorney Greg Griggers said of Powell’s role in the incident. “The physical evidence was consistent with that. The pathology showed that the victim had been shot in the shoulder like he said he did. At the time he gave that statement, he wouldn’t have known what the pathology showed, so I don’t think he was making it up. I think he was admitting to what he did. The person that was with him, being a known violent offender, it was very easy to believe that he was the one who fired the fatal shots as opposed to Darius Powell.”

The Demopolis Police Department arrested Powell and Williams Nov. 20, 2009, 22 months after Warren’s death. Powell has remained at the Marengo County Detention Center while Williams is currently in the midst of a 30-year sentence for other crimes.

“He basically admitted to us that he was at Randy Warren’s house with another individual and a scuffle ensued and he pulled a gun and he shot him,” Demopolis Police Chief Tommie Reese said of the case. “It brings closure for the department and Randy Warren’s family that the person who is responsible was brought to justice. I want to thank Det. Zack Fluker, Sgt. Tim Soronen and District Attorney Greg Griggers’ office for their hard work in getting this case resolved and this person brought to justice.”

Reese said there will be a $5,000 reward from the governor’s office paid out to an individual who came forward in 2009 with information that led to the arrest and conviction of Powell.

Powell’s case went to trial in February of this year, ending in a mistrial as the jury failed to reach a consensus in its verdict.

“He sat there and heard the case and he heard the evidence that we had. I don’t know what he was thinking, but I suspect that he felt pretty certain that he would be convicted if we tried the case again,” Griggers said.

Powell will remain at the Marengo County Detention Center until Nov. 20 when he faces sentencing. Griggers said he will pursue a 15-year sentence for the 21-year-old Powell but will not object if the defense asks that the sentence be split. Under that scenario, Powell could potentially be released the day of his sentencing, three years to the day after his arrest.

“Our agreement was 15 years. I think that he will request a split sentence. He has been incarcerated now for three years, or will be come Nov. 20. That is the longest split sentence that the judge can give. With a sentence of 15 years, he can split to a maximum of three years,” Griggers said of the decision that will likely face Judge Eddie Hardaway Jr. “I have agreed that, if that is what he requests, we’ll stay out of it. If he were given 15 years, given this current state of the penitentiary system and with pardons and paroles, I don’t know how much more time you could really reasonably expect him to serve anyway.”

While Powell awaits sentencing, the case remains open for Williams, whose medical condition has the Department of Corrections reluctant to allow him to stand trial.

“We have attempted to set his case a couple of times, but due to the fact that he has been diagnosed with tuberculosis the DOC won’t release him from prison to come and stand trial, so until they say he can, we can’t,” Griggers said.  “This case is consistent with the behavior that we’ve had him involved in before. So it’s not the least bit hard to imagine that he was involved in this case just as Darius Powell has said he was. This is the same type of character we have seen him exhibit in the past.”

ALJ’s Huggins makes ESPN 104.9 Player of the Week

ESPN 104.9 Coaches Show host Rob Pearson presents Castillo Huggins with a commemorative T-shirt to honor him as Player of the Week. The show’s crew recognized Huggins, who is pictured along with ALJ coach Mose Jones, Tuesday night at Batter Up Sports Grill in Demopolis.

A.L. Johnson landed its first player of 2012 at Batter Up Sports Grill in Demopolis Tuesday night as Castillo Huggins earned ESPN 104.9 Coaches Show Player of the Week Honors.

Huggins, who has 19 total touchdowns for the Eagles this season, led ALJ in a 51-14 rout of rival Marengo High last Friday night. Huggins toted the ball 16 times for 239 yards and four touchdowns to pace the Eagle offense while also returning a punt 52 yards for a score.

The ESPN 104.9 crew honored Huggins, a senior, Tuesday night with a commemorative T-shirt for his efforts. The Eagles will wrap up their season Friday night when they host Sunshine High.


WAW adds community links page has a new feature this week as it has unveiled a community links page.

In keeping with the community-oriented focus of The West Alabama Watchman, the community links page allows the website to easily corral the internet homes for many of Marengo County’s most important resources, making it easier for Watchman readers to find the home page of most local public entities.

The community links page, which can be accessed by clicking “Community Links” at the top of the West Alabama Watchman home page, includes direct links to the Marengo County Economic Development Authority, Marengo County Schools, the City of Demopolis, the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce, Christmas on the River, the Demopolis Industrial Development Board, Demopolis City Schools, the City of Linden, Linden City Schools, Marengo Academy and the University of West Alabama.

The community links page is the latest feature to The Watchman website, which strives to provide easy access to local information for all its readers. The community links page comes just a few weeks after The Watchman began featuring the weekly sales circular for Vowell’s Grocery on its website, a file that can be accessed by clicking the Vowell’s advertisement.

Many of the other advertisement on The Watchman site link directly to the internet home of the corresponding merchant, a feature intended to help readers easily access information regarding the businesses with ease and convenience.

Linden Arrest Reports: Oct. 29

Frankie Lee White b/m age 41 of Gallion was arrested on 10/23/12 for Domestic Violence III and Possession of Marijuana II.

Jonathan Davis b/m age 28 of Faunsdale was arrested on 10/29/12 for Disorderly Conduct.

Tigers look to rebound against Hillcrest

The last time Demopolis beat Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa, it was coming off a decisive loss to an athletic team that went on to win the region championship.

The year was 2009 and the Tigers had just suffered a 32-14 setback to Carver High School, the eventual region champions. Demopolis rebounded with a 25-20 win over Class 6A Hillcrest, one of the 12 victories that helped pave the road to Demopolis’ 2009 Class 5A state championship.

The Tigers are looking to make history repeat itself this Thursday night when they host Hillcrest just six days after falling 34-7 to Class 5A, Region 3 champion Jackson.

“I think what you learn from any loss is where a lot of our weaknesses are and a lot of our holes are as players, coaches, everything. The things we’ve got to correct and get better at and the things that we’re good at too. A lot of it is taking care of the little things and letting the big things take care of themselves,” Demopolis head coach Tom Causey said. “This week in practice is huge. We’ve got to rebound and leadership has got to take charge of our team. We’ve got to be more focused as coaches and players on the little things so that the big things don’t become so big. We’ve still got a lot of things that we’ve got to correct. Some of it is between our ears, not necessarily technique. We’ll keep working. We’ll keep plugging and come out Thursday night and hopefully have a great ball game with Hillcrest.”

Hillcrest enters the contest 5-4 in its first season with head coach Scott Martin at the program’s helm. Martin left Calera to take over for Adam Winegarden, who left the Patriots for Fairhope High after last season. Despite the coaching change, Causey expects the Patriots of 2012 will look a lot like the teams that have given Demopolis fits since the schools renewed their rivalry in 2008.

“They’re very similar. Defensively, they are still doing the same things they did in the past,” Causey said. “Offensively, they still run a little option. They are a little more spread than they were with Coach Winegarden. They’re still very similar, still well coached and still where they are supposed to be at all times, just a high quality, very good football team.”

While many of the names on the roster have changed, the Patriots still boast their share of athletes, including starting quarterback Riley Nix and running back Jertavious Sanders.

The running back (Sanders) is back. The kid playing quarterback, (Nix), he played against us some last year. He’s a dang good athlete, throws the ball extremely well. He’s probably got quicker feet than (2011 starting quarterback and University of North Alabama signee Luke Wingo) had but he’s not as big and physical as the Wingo kid. Their talent level is about the same. They’ve got two defensive linemen who are as good as we’ll play. It’s hard to judge their talent sometimes with the film that we’ve got because I think they are playing against three of the most physical teams in the state of Alabama on our film in Hoover, (Tuscaloosa County) and Minor. They look really good on film. They’re really athletic. They can run. What’s probably the most impressive thing about them is that they execute their offense and defense with a great precision. They’re really good at what they do.”

The Thursday night kick of scheduled for 7 p.m. at Tiger Stadium. Tiger supporters are also selling white T-shirts in support of the American Cancer Society. Fans are encouraged to wear white to the game.