Attitude is everything, and the Tigers know that

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Commentary by Mike Grayson

Attitude is everything.

Henry Ford was quoted as saying “whether you believe you can or believe you can’t, you’re probably right”. My intake on this, with a very literal spin, is you will live up to or down to your expectations.

Right now the Demopolis High Tigers (and yes, sigh, even the Auburn University Tigers) are living and playing on the premise that if they suit up for the game and take the field, they’re going to find a way to win. They expect to win.

DHS has not lost a regular season game since November 2, 2001 (Jackson Aggies 31-23). That was the last game of the regular season. The Tigers lost the two prior to Jackson (Oak Mountain and Briarwood) resulting in a three game losing streak going into the playoffs. In the first round of the

Class 5A playoffs they were totally overwhelmed by the Wilcox Central Jaguars 35-6. (Sidebar item: the Jags were led by Christopher ‘Big Country’ Browder who originally signed with Bama but was exiled to junior college due to grades or more accurately lack of grades. Upon completion of his JC stint, Browder signed with Auburn and is now a teammate of Dusty Goodwin).

Demopolis was realigned into 4A beginning with the 2002 season. The Tigers immediately became one of the larger 4A schools as opposed to their prior distinction as being one of the smallest 5A’s.

Paraphrasing Chico Escuela (Saturday Night Live character played by Garrett Morris) “4A has been bery, bery good to DHS”.

Doug Goodwin’s charges have barreled through the regular season each year since the 2002 realignment. In my opinion, and for what it’s worth, DHS has recalibrated a ‘can do’ thought process into a ‘will do’ mentality. Join me as we meander into yester year to review some key highlights in this transformation.

October 18, 2002: the permutation reached a new level of achievement during what I would wager a dollar to a doughnut as one of the most exciting high school games played in many a day.

The DHS Tigers took a 6-0 record into a regional match up with Waldon Tucker’s once beaten Fayette County Tigers. As one might expect, Waldon had his guys prepared and pumped to the max. Marco Rembert got Demopolis on the board first with an 8 yard TD. It was then back and forth with Fayette going in at intermission leading 28-21.

In the third quarter, Fayette recovered a DHS fumble and drove 60 yards to stake their lead to 35-21. It was check and check mate as Fayette answered each DHS challenge.

Demopolis began the fourth quarter down 38-28. Marco Rembert scored again to reduce

the FCHS lead to 38-34. Fayette later punted and with an excellent roll pinned DHS at their own 10-yard line with 4:11 remaining in the game. It was at this point the River City Bengals started to become believers. Dusty Goodwin masterfully engineered a drive that would create a boxcar load of first downs and eat four minutes off the clock. The game came down to one last play, nine seconds on the clock at the Fayette 15. Goodwin calmly threw a perfect strike to Brett Pettus in the back of the end zone for a 40-38 nail biting, gut wrenching, cardiac arrest DHS victory.

I continue my case with Exhibit B; concerning the attitude vicissitude.

October 17, 2003: another chapter was added to their ‘attitude’ book. Again, another regional game on the road against a tough and determined foe, this time the Dallas county Hornets.

In the first half the Hornets physically abused DHS and took a 14-3 lead into the locker room. The Hornet fans derided the Tigers as they left the field with taunts of “over rated”, “weak schedule”, “DHS paper tigers”, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Strangely enough, the game turned in the third quarter when it appeared DCHS was on the verge of a blowout. The Hornets Browder scored his third touchdown of the game putting DCHS up 20-3 with the PAT coming.

I truly don’t know if Coach Goodwin challenged his defense just before the PAT; whether one of the Tigers made some kind of memorable statement that lit a fire; whether Dallas County got a little too cocky and comfy; whether it was fate or an act of God, but Demopolis blocked that extra point then elevated their intensity and play to another level.

Devin Goodwin proceeded to throw touchdowns to Colby Roberts and Jonathan Sommors to wrap up the third quarter with Dallas County nervously holding a faltering 20-17 advantage. The proverbial ‘worm’ had turned; the Hornets were on their heels.

The final period was all DHS as Dusty Gracie and Rod ‘Rock’ Jones each had short scoring runs. The DHS defense nixed the once torrid Hornet offense on their final possessions with three pickoffs (two by Vincent Jackson and one by Seth Basinger).

Paraphrasing Matthew 21:22, “As you believe, so shall you receive”. The Tigers and the Tiger faithful were now full fledged believers.

It is certainly interesting to observe how success has led to success. It has been captivating how the above mentioned games have shown how kids can reach deep within themselves and play with skill and ability, and more importantly a ‘refuse to lose’ confidence. On the other side, the opposition on more than a few occasions has been psyched and is not really playing to win, but rather not to lose in clutch situations.

Just as it is in life or in business, when a team is winning, and winning big, everybody gets to play. Everybody loves you and hugs are everywhere. When a program is successful there is enough fame and glory for everybody to share. The upward journey to success is a narrow path in a long and arduous sojourn paved with hours of hard work, preparation, sweat, tears, blood and mental dedication to the cause.

The road to ruin, or worse mediocrity, is a super highway that can whisk you from the top of the heap to ‘has been’ land in almost a blink of the eye. Selfish thoughts about not enough playing time; flawed thinking about one’s self importance; off base parental involvement; taking the easy way; fallacious arrogance and over confidence; failure to remember the price that must be paid daily to achieve success are ‘on ramps’ for that super highway.

Attitude is everything.