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.