Last year’s Tigers created blueprint for success

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 6, 2003

The 4A Demopolis Tigers wrapped up their second undefeated regular season this past week with a 48-7 victory over the Jackson Aggies and are headed back to the playoffs for a fifth straight appearance, an impressive accomplishment for any team.

The Tigers have found all of the right ingredients for success on the football field and are awaiting their shot at the grand prize. Head Coach Doug Goodwin believes that this year’s success is due in part to last year’s team.

Going 10-0 is not any easy task for anyone but doing it with injuries is almost impossible. This season the Tigers have only suffered three injuries, all of which have had minor effects and all have come late in the season.

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Linebacker Ezell Braxton sprained his ankle in week eight but is now back at full strength. Dustin Gracie was carried off the field in week 10 with bruised ribs and is also back to full strength.

The only serious injury the Tigers have had to face is that of wide receiver Bart Pettus with a strained ACL two weeks ago. And thankfully after careful rehabilitation, Pettus could be back at full strength as early as this week.

Another key ingredient to the Tigers success this season arrived from the outstanding play of the team’s younger members. Defensively the Tigers were lead in tackles by first year, junior linebacker Seth Basinger who just recently joined the team in the spring.

Along with Basinger, stands another defensive standout in sophomore linebacker Ezell Braxton who is more than ready for a trip to Birmingham. "I’m very excited right now and can’t wait to see the inside of Legion Field," Braxton said.

The Tigers lost a great deal of their senior leadership last year and returned with only four seniors on the roster. But senior tight end Michael Lee, who has now been apart of two back-to-back undefeated teams, believes that the senior leadership on this team may be small in number but is still just as powerful as before.

Another senior who takes great pride in being apart of two undefeated teams is tackle Gerard Jackson who’s face lights up like a Christmas tree when he reflects on being a member of two back-to-back undefeated teams.

"We are all very excited right now, its playoff time," Jackson said. In order for the Tigers to finish what they started last season they will have to get past the #1 ranked UMS-Wright Bulldogs who knocked the Tigers out of the hunt last year in the semi-finals.

And though the Tigers know that they can’t afford to concentrate on the Tigers right now, they can’t help but let themselves look ahead and ponder a second meeting.

Surprisingly the Tigers could meet up with the (9-1) Bulldogs as early as the third round of the playoffs. But first they must beat the Choctaw County Tigers again and take their first steps toward victory.