Tigers looking to improve against Citronelle

Demopolis will look to build on its week one performance against American Christian Academy when it hosts Citronelle Friday night.

In Citronelle, the Tigers find a new opponent that Demopolis head coach Tom Causey said reminds him a lot of an old opponent.

“Coach (William) Gardner is in his second year down there. They play hard. They remind me a lot of our past region opponents of a hybrid of maybe Chilton County and Brookwood,” Causey said. “They’ve got some really good skill players that play fast. They’re big up front and they do a really good job of run blocking. They’ve got two linebackers over there that look like high school linebackers. When the ball turns over, they’re fitting. They’ve got two pretty good corners.”

Causey said he anticipates Citronelle will present itself as a very physical team given its experience with playing in one of the state’s toughest regions over the last several years.

“They are a physical football team. They’re used to playing in Region 1 in Mobile in 5A and that’s kind of like the SEC of high school 5A football,” Causey said. “So they’re used to playing good, hard-nosed football and we expect nothing but great things out of them when they come in here Friday night.”

The Tigers enter the game fresh off a 49-7 thrashing of American Christian Academy last week. Despite the decisive manner in which his team won, Causey had a laundry list of things upon which he believes his team must improve as it heads into region play.

“We have got to get better on special teams substitution. We didn’t do a very good job of that, transitioning from defense to punt block. That’s on our coaches and that’s on our players,” Causey said before turning his attention to the defensive side of the ball. “We’ve still got to do a better job of taking good angles on defense. We didn’t play the toss sweep like we should have Friday night. We had them in down and distance situations where it didn’t show up so much and hurt us as bad. That was kind of the way the game went. We stayed in front of the chains the entire night. Those mistakes didn’t show up. We’ve got to get those things corrected.”

Inasmuch as Causey would like to see improvement out of his defense and special teams, he would also like to see his offensive unit become more sound in certain fundamentals that will be key as the season moves on.

“Offensively, our tracks are still not where they need to be with our fullbacks and hat placement of the offensive line has got to get better,” Causey said. “We were fortunate the other night to have great field position and some of those things didn’t really show up in the results. But if we have to drive that ball 14 or 15, plays 70 or 80 yards with some of the techniques mistakes we made offensively, we won’t be able to do it because it will cost us.”

The Tigers will also be looking to improve upon the performance of its offensive line, an inexperienced group Causey said showed great development last week.

“It’s going to be growth with them all year long. They’re still not where we want them. They were more physical Friday night,” Causey said. “I thought Korey James played an extremely physical football game. William Tutt did a super job for his first start, but he’s got to be better. Allen Campbell was as aggressive as they come, but his hat placement wasn’t real good. John Anthony (Morrison) is finally turning loose and coming off the ball. If he ever zeroes in, he’s going to be pretty good. Jake Freeman was the same way at right tackle. It’s just little things that they’ve got to get better at each week.”

While Causey and his coaching staff will work to take care of Demopolis having its best foot forward on the field, he hopes the team’s fans will make sure the Tigers have a strong showing in the stands.

“I think it’s good for our fans. It’s good for us to see different folks. The last couple years, we haven’t had really good crowds at home games. They get here a little late,” Causey said. “With a new region, these folks coming in here, we’ve got three home games in a row, I’d love to see our stands packed early and folks get here early for the game and really make our crowd a factor. Our crowd hasn’t been a factor, other than the playoff games at home in 09 since we left the old stadium.  We’d like for that crowd to be here, get crazy, get loud and really welcome these new teams into the region. Hopefully our fans will be excited about playing somebody like Citronelle who is new for us. Maybe they’ll get here and get loud and get crazy Friday night and welcome them to Demopolis like Demopolis used to be.”