Unbeaten upstart Helena offers great challenge for Demopolis

Derrick Birl breaks up a pass intended for a Jemison High School receiver.

Derrick Birl breaks up a pass intended for a Jemison High School receiver.

Just three games into their inaugural season and the Helena Huskies have turned plenty of heads statewide. Watt Parker’s crew is off to a 3-0 start and is tied for the top spot in Class 5A, Region 4.

The Huskies have given up no points since an Aug. 29 tilt with Shelby County that saw Helena walk away with a 30-15 win.

The fledgling program has since gone on to down Wilcox Central and Dallas County by a combine total of 70-0, the most recent of those wins coming in the form of a 28-0 win over DCHS last week that was called in the second quarter due to inclement weather.

The checklist for the Huskies has gone with little hiccup as Helena has won its first game, won its first region game and won its second region game. Now, Helena is tasked with winning its first home game. That contest is set for Friday night against a 2-1 Demopolis squad that appears to be finding its stride.

And as the Tigers are fresh off back-to-back region wins against Calera and Jemison, Demopolis coach Tom Causey knows that his team has a major challenging ahead Friday night.

“They’re very well coached. They’re big up front on both sides,” Causey said of the Huskies. “They play extremely hard and they’re a dang good football team. They don’t make a lot of mistakes. I haven’t seen them turn it over and I haven’t seen a lot of penalties.”

Drew Jones crosses the goal line for his first touchdown of the night against Jemison High School.

Drew Jones crosses the goal line for his first touchdown of the night against Jemison High School.

Causey said the Huskies play with a crispness that belies the infancy of the program they represent.

“I think a lot of their kids played at Pelham last year,” Causey said. “They were playing in good programs. And they’ve been together since the spring. They’ve got good coaches and, from what it sounds like, great community support. They’ve pulled things together and they’re going in the right direction. It’s hard to do much better than what they’ve done.”

What the Huskies have done under Parker, whose previous coaching experience came at Arab and Chelsea, is outscore opponents 100-15 with a complex look on both sides of the ball.

“They mix it up a good bit,” Causey said of the Helena offense. “They’re very similar to Calera in what they do offensively. They’ve had big plays in the passing game in every film we’ve seen. They’ve got two quarterbacks and both of them can run. And they’re running back, Devan Walker, is as good of a back as we’ve seen this year.”

On the defensive side, Helena is known to mix up its looks and provide opposing attacks plenty to think about over the course of the game.

“They’re multiple. They’ve been 4-2-5 and 3-4 depending on the situation and the team they’re playing,” Causey said. “They play situational football, which tells me again they are well coached. They’ve done a good job of stopping the run. It doesn’t take them long to figure our what they need to do. They’re not going to come in and play on front and one coverage against us. We have to prepare for multiple fronts. And multiple coverages.”

A.J. Collier (21) and Rahmeel Cook (44) bring down a Jemison High School ball carrier.

A.J. Collier (21) and Rahmeel Cook (44) bring down a Jemison High School ball carrier.

As his team readies to hit the road for the daunting task of being the first team to visit the Huskies in their own house, Causey hopes his group continues the upward progression it has shown the last two weeks.

“We cut back on our penalties. We took care of the ball,” Causey said. “Our boys played extra hard again Friday night. It’s something we’re going to have to have again because Helena does play so dang hard and they’re well coached.”