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QA with Doug Goodwin

Since his arrival in Demopolis just five years ago, Demopolis High School Head Football Coach Doug Goodwin has managed to take four out of the last five Tigers’ teams to the state playoffs, two of which he took as deep as the quarterfinals in back-to-back seasons.

And with Goodwin at the helm, it appears that a tradition of excellence has begun at DHS. With repeated playoff appearances in ’03, ’02, ’01, ’99 and ’98, a highly explosive offence and a deadly defense that brought a 11-1 two-time state champion UMS Wright team to its knees in 2003, the Demopolis High School Tigers now sit among the elite 4A programs in the state of Alabama.

But as the Tigers go prowling into their 2004 season, Goodwin knows that that newly acclaimed elite status will soon be tested at every level, on and off the field.

Goodwin enters his sixth year at DHS with a team loaded in talent and poised in winning. With a full house of senior talent, a returning defense that only allowed 66 points last season, the return of third-year starting quarterback Devin Goodwin and having one of the fastest teams in 4A, many would easily say that Demopolis is set for another outstanding season of football. Expectations are high in Demopolis, but there are still questions to be answered.

With spring practices complete and only a month before the helmets get strapped on Goodwin sets down with the Demopolis Times to discuss the up and coming 2004 season, his thoughts of the spring and the continuing growth of the DHS program.

Demopolis Times: With spring now out of the way, have you really had a chance to see what kind of team we will be looking at come next fall?

Goodwin: With spring, I never know how strong we are really going to be. There may be a 70, 80 even 90 kids come out in the spring. And there could be a mountain of potential and talent on the field, but come summer it’s an entirely different situation. I never know exactly how good we are going to be until about two or three weeks before the season.

Demopolis Times: In terms of spring training, what impressed you, and what areas were you disappointed with, if any?

Goodwin: This year we had some of the best weather ever, along with some great numbers. We had a lot of young kids out this spring that we got a good look at. We were able to build a little depth, which will give us a good starting point for next season.

On the bad side though, we didn’t have everybody here. Nine key players were still playing baseball at that time. But we’re not complaining about that because we were more than happy to have them playing for Demopolis’ first baseball state championship in more than 18 years.

But the good part about that is that we already know what those kids can do. We’ve been watching them over the past three years.

An even better part of them not being out this spring was that it forced us to look at these younger guys. Our younger, more inexperienced players got a lot more reps in this spring than they would, had those seven players been on the field.

The negative side of it though meant working through a great deal of confusion. When you’re dealing with young, inexperienced players you have to water everything down for them. You have to take baby step before you can take big steps and you have crawl before you can run. It’s a step-by-step process that can be difficult for any coach.

Demopolis Times: When we look ahead into the following season we see two new 4A teams added to the schedule in Jemison High and Southside-Selma. How, if any, does playing either of these two teams benefit your program? And does either of these two teams cause a serious threat to another perfect regular season for the Tigers?

Goodwin: With Fayette, we knew they were a traditionally strong team with an excellent fan base. And I liked having them on our schedule. But that is not the case with Southside. We I first came to Demopolis, we had Southside in our area, and when they came to play us they brought no one.

So from a facility stand point it is a sort of a step down for us. We’ve never played Jemison before, so I really can’t say one way or the other about them.

From a competitive standpoint, it’s hard to say weather or not it will benefit us to play these two teams. Southside made the playoffs last year, but I think that year in and year out it’s going to be Fayette who’ll have the better program. But you never know how competitive the teams in your area are going to be from year to year.

Demopolis Times: Looking ahead, we also see an open date of October 29, next season, which is the last regular season date before the playoffs. The Tigers had previously filled that date with Jackson High. As of now, is that date open and if so, do you plan on keeping it open?

I’ve spent a great deal of time during the off-season calling coaches from around the state to try and fill that open spot on our schedule. I even tried to schedule a game with neighboring John Essex High School, but was too late, as they had already made agreements with Greensboro for that date.

As of now, we still have not found a team to fill that spot. And with it being this late in the game it doesn’t look like we will. But that’s not always a bad thing. If there is a date that has to be open, October 29 is the one you want it to be.

Having that date open will give us an extra week to prepare for a first round playoff game and time to heal up any injuries that could hurt us in the playoffs.

Demopolis Times: There are five teams on this year’s schedule that made the playoffs last season and one (Southside-Selma) that surpassed the second round. With Fayette now out of the picture, is Southside-Selma the team to beat this year?

Goodwin: Well, the way I look at it is every team is the team to beat. Right now it’s Sumter County, because they are the first one on the list. But I would have to say that, based on what these teams did last year it would look like Southside would be the most difficult team to contend with. They had the best record, but you never know what they will have coming back. I expect Dallas County to be a difficult challenge. They are always competitive when it comes to playing us.

Demopolis Times: With the end of the 2003 season there came up a barrage of rumors, all pointing towards your continued future as head football coach of Demopolis. I know that it is not in your nature to talk of such matters, but let’s set the record straight. Did you here of such rumors and what is your thoughts on the matter?

Goodwin: I herd the same rumors and honestly don’t know where they come from. I can only tell you that they don’t come from me. I just feel that a lot of people enjoy speculating on coaches changing jobs, it gives them something to talk about.

Demopolis Times: What about the future? What will it take to keep the Demopolis Tigers in the run for the state championship and in among the elite in the state?

Goodwin: Honestly, in order for this program to continue to be in the hunt for a state championship from year to year, it’s going to take some financial help from the city of Demopolis. We need better facilities.

This football team brings thousands of people to the city of Demopolis each season. They eat at our restaurants, they stay in our hotels and they buy our gas, but their not going to continue to come here if they can’t even enjoy the game. It’s time for a new stadium.