Demopolis readying for Jackson showdown

Demopolis travels to Jackson Friday night for a contest that has been circled by a number of high school football enthusiasts for months. The battle of 8-0 teams will serve as a de facto region championship game for Class 5A, Region 3 as the Tigers look to better their playoff positioning and end Jackson’s 23-game win streak.

The two squads enter Friday’s contest having combined for 650 points thus far this season, each also boasting a defense that has allowed less than 100 points on the year.

Yet, with all of the shine that is on the contest and all of the eyes eagerly awaiting the 7 p.m. kickoff at Legion Field, Demopolis head coach Tom Causey pointed to the game’s significance being hinged more upon its place on the schedule than any other factors.

“We’re going to try to do the same things we normally do to prepare for the game. I don’t imagine there will be any need to change what we do,” Causey said. “Going into this week, whether it be Jackson or whoever this week nine is, we’ve got to get better every day. This is a big game. No doubt. But this is a big game because it is the next game. What we want to do is continue to do what we’ve been doing and let’s get better today.”

The opponent that fills that week nine slot for Demopolis is one that won the Class 4A state championship in 2011 and has yet to taste defeat under head coach Danny Powell, who made his name while taking Leroy to statewide prominence before moving to Jackson in 2011.

“They’re doing the same things. They are a spread offense who is very physical in running the football,” Causey said of Jackson’s offensive approach under Powell. “They’re going to run it from a lot of different slots. They’ll run it with their quarterback. They’ll run it with their receivers in the jet sweep stuff. They’re going to run the zone and counter stuff with their running back. They are a running football team. You better stop the run with them or they will be tough to beat.”

The skill talent that the Tigers will try to limit Friday night is as capable of a group as Demopolis has seen all season long. The group is led by Jackson Academy transfer Matthew Jordan.

“Really, there’s three guys that are big time playmakers. Matthew Jordan, the quarterback, that has transferred from Jackson Academy, unreal speed, throws the ball extremely well, makes really good decisions with the football,” Causey said. “Ledarrius Bowe is a senior running back, 5-7, 165-pound kid that’s got lightning quick feet and accelerates, goes from zero to 60 in a hurry. And then the wide receiver is a kid named Jarren Johnson who at 6-1, 190 pounds is a lot bigger than you think he is. Unreal explosiveness. Those are their three guys. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve got other guys around them. They’ve got a slot, Devonte’ Bush, and another slot, Quentin Hunt, those guys make plays for them all the time.”

And while the Aggies’ offense has grabbed the headlines during an 8-0 start that has seen it post 340 points, it is the defense that has suffocated opponents.

“They’re a base 3-4. They’re going to make some adjustments based off of everybody they play. Their safeties are really physical and aggressive. I think they’ve got the two best middle linebackers of anybody we’ll play, a kid named Marquez Jackson, a senior inside backer, and Gavin Bryant, a junior,” Causey said. “They’re both big-legged young’uns that can run. And the D-line is athletic. They’re not real big but they are so fast and physical. They are extremely well coached. They don’t give up a lot of points. You have to earn your way down the field on them and you have to be willing to be patient.”

For Demopolis, success Friday night may not be determined by any one player, position or scheme. Rather, it may be achieved by matching the confidence and consistency that has led Jackson to the state’s longest unbeaten streak.

“I think, probably, the greatest thing that makes them dangerous is their confidence. I mean, they’ve won 23 straight games. It’s bubbling out of their ears down there right now,” Causey said. “They’ve had some huge wins this year, which is not an easy thing to do. They beat 6A Foley at home, which is not an easy thing to do. They’ve managed to keep their kids focused and stay within that single mindset. That probably makes them more dangerous than anything.”