Tigers beginning to find way within new offense

The Tigers are adjusting to the Stacy Luker's Wing-T after eight seasons in Tom Causey's spread option.

The Tigers are adjusting to the Stacy Luker’s Wing-T after eight seasons in Tom Causey’s spread option.

There’s a new coaching staff, a new system and a new season but Demopolis High football has the same goal as every year.

“At the end of the season, we’re hoping to be at Bryant-Denny or Jordan-Hare playing for a 5A state championship,” Demopolis starting quarterback Jamarcus Ezell said of the Tigers’ expectations under first-year head coach Stacy Luker. “You can see it from the first day he came in. You can see how Coach Luker came in with his momentum, his attitude. You see he brought in the trophy. He says he is all about winning championships.”

Jamarcus Ezell fires a pass after a rollout.

Jamarcus Ezell fires a pass after a rollout.

The move from former coach Tom Causey and his unique twist on the spread option has the Tigers working to master Luker’s Wing-T attack.

“Everything is basically the same,” Ezell said of the principles that make up the offense. “I was in it about a year ago in Butler (Choctaw County High School). I’m pretty used to it. I can run. I’m a balanced quarterback, so I can really do both. Since I know the system, it’s kind of easy for me to learn.”

Ezell’s familiarity with the offensive system has helped the Tigers to ease the transition to the Wing-T.

“He’s a leader. Those kids rally to him. He’s smart, knows the game, is easy to coach. He’s what you want in a quarterback,” Luker said of Ezell. “He’s a dual threat guy. We can put him under center. We can do some things out of the gun because of him. He’s going to be a guy that will allow us to throw it around 10-15 times a game pretty easy and be effective. That’s really going to open up things up front for us.”

Ezell has also been using his leadership role to help his teammates adjust to the new scheme.

Keishaun Scott runs the ball during a recent practice.

Keishaun Scott runs the ball during a recent practice.

“You have to sit down with your offensive line and go through schemes. During spring it wasn’t too hot, but now I can see they’re getting the momentum going during practice,” Ezell said. “You can see we’re getting five or six carries whereas in the spring we were getting two or three. It’s going pretty good. They’re learning it pretty well.”

The blocking scheme change is one of the two main alterations for the Demopolis offensive attack as the 2015 season approaches.

“I think for our offensive line, staying on blocks, being more physical at the point of attack and staying on blocks,” Luker said of the greatest challenge his offensive players face. “Option football, you’re letting people go. You’re reading them and you’re shielding them with these big, wide splits. It was beautiful. It’s a thing of beauty. In all fairness, I don’t know anything about it. So we had to make the change.”

The other adjustment will come for the Tiger running backs whose lanes will look much different within Luker’s system.

“For our backs, it’s the tracks. You can see them getting off the track sometimes. (In the spring) it looked to me like a veer track, something they were used to,” Luker said. “It’s learning to be patient with the hole and the guards. I think it takes such discipline to do what we do and patience. That’s something the coaches have to learn. They’ve got to learn the patience and be willing to sit there and take a 15-play drive.”

Stacy Luker looks over his offense before giving a play call to quarterback Logan McVay.

Stacy Luker looks over his offense before giving a play call to quarterback Logan McVay.

Luker’s offense is built on ball control and physicality at the point of attack. At its best, it moves the chains, milks the clock and exhibits patience.

“We have to be disciplined. We can’t jump offsides. We can’t be behind the chains in our offense. We understand that,” Luker said. “Us staying ahead of the chains makes a kid like Jamarcus Ezell from under center even more effective with what we’re doing.”

To this point in the summer, the Tigers have shown considerable progress in preparation for the August opener against Thomasville.

“Right now, we’re probably about 75 percent. When we get to two-a-days, August, we’re probably going to be at 100 percent. We’ll be ready to go. We’re going to be a much more physical team,” Ezell said.

“You’re wining games right now, but there’s no pressure to outscore an opponent right now. There’s just pressure to get better,” Luker said. “We’re getting there.”