Luker, new staff impressed with Tiger offseason

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“When I walked off the field after playing the spring game against Pleasant Grove, I wanted to get in my truck, go home and retire,” said new Demopolis High head football Coach Stacy Luker.

“It was ugly.”

Speaking before the Demopolis Rotary Club on Wednesday, Luker said since the spring game things have gotten a whole lot better.

“We’ve had a good summer,” said Luker. Former coach Tom Causey left the program in great shape, which made Luker’s transition easy. It’s his first job as head coach where he hasn’t had to fix a lot of problems.

The team, especially the 16 returning seniors, have had to face a lot of changes with a new coaching staff, offensive and defensive strategies, and even how to work out in the weight room.

“What I asked them early was to embrace the change,” said Luker. “And they have. It’s been fun to watch them mature. We’re a lot better football team than we were in the spring.”

The goal, of course, is to make it to the state championship, and that is what the team is working toward, but not making it there doesn’t mean the season is a failure.

The coach said a good team will be on the field, “one that will represent our school and our community well.”

Coming to Demopolis has, in a way, been full circle for Luker. He played high school football in Sweet Water under coach Nolan Akins and, after he graduated from the University of West Alabama, he offered to help the coach how ever he could.

“Without hesitation he says, ‘Absolutely, and you can be my defensive coordinator’, “ recalled Luker. “What I learned from him was how to treat assistants and put responsibility on them.”

It’s a practice Luker has continued in all of his head coaching positions, including Demopolis. Four coaches under Causey remain with the program: Drew Luker, defensive coordinator; Blaine Hathcock, quarterbacks; Joey Browder, running backs; and James Moody, who has been switched from offense to defense.

New coaches include Will Rouse, who came with Luker from Mississippi and will be the offensive line coach and teach math; Sam Mosely, defensive line, from Leroy; Bert Rice, defensive backs, from Andalusia; Ashley Allen, also doubling as basketball coach, who will direct the corners; and two 22-year-olds, Dawson Turberville, coaching split ends, and Logan Collins, a baseball player at UWA who Luker calls the “football operations guy.”

The returning seniors have assumed leadership of the roster of 76 players and “done everything we’ve asked,” said the coach. They are the ones who really have had to embrace change since they had three years under Causey. Total of 76 on team.

Looking at game footage over the past several years, Luker said turnovers and penalties have hurt Demopolis. “Our defense has got to step up big for us,” he added.

The team will get tested immediately since the first five weeks of schedule are really tough. “It concerns me how top-heavy our schedule is,” said Luker.

But he is convinced Demopolis has the spirit and the willingness to make it to state. “This is a place that has great passion for football.”