Building DHS program has taken time

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 7, 2004

DEMOPOLIS &045;&045; Players hugged their girlfriends. Coaches hugged their wives. Cameras got in the way of everything.

It was easy, Friday night, to get caught in the moment of Demopolis High’s 29-15 handling of UMS-Wright in the Class 4A semifinals. Getting to that point, however, was anything but easy. And it took much more than just a few moments for the DHS program to make its first trip to a state championship game.

Head Coach Doug Goodwin arrived in Demopolis six years ago and first coached the Tigers during the 1999 season. Unlike the DHS program, Goodwin knew the way to a state championship game &045;&045; he led Lineville High School to title appearances in 1996 and 1998.

Though Goodwin never won a state championship at Lineville, he immediately spotted the need for change &045;&045; and discipline &045;&045; in the Tiger program.

In the process, Goodwin and the rest of his coaching staff struggled to keep a positive attitude in the field house.

That’s what happened, though. Goodwin and his coaches took nearly three years to siphon off the players who didn’t follow the rules. Deafening wins over Trinity and UMS-Wright were the results.

These days, Goodwin doesn’t walk into his DHS office worried about which kid hasn’t passed which math test. He doesn’t spend valuable coaching time sorting through off-the-field disciplinary problems.

It’s that simple &045;&045; both to the coaches and the players &045;&045; and simplicity is the first quarter of success. Then again, having coachable players doesn’t ensure a trip to any state championship game.

By all accounts, the DHS players trust what they’re told behind the closed doors of the field house, but the trust factor goes another level.

With that trust instilled, Goodwin said the entire organization of the DHS program operates with few glitches, especially with the early training most of the Tiger players receive.

Since his tenure at DHS began, Goodwin said the Demopolis Middle School program has worked in conjunction with the high school program.

When the middle school players finally make it to the varsity team, they come with a basic knowledge of how "the system" works.

Though it sounds too easy, the rest of the DHS success rests solely with the coaching staff, according to Goodwin.

Players come to the high school prepared. Players who don’t follow the rules don’t bother to show up. And players who want to win spend their springs at two-a-days, their summers in the weight room, and their falls winning football games.

Maybe that’s why Goodwin can’t look back on the last 14 football games and define a single low-point to 2004 season.

Ever since their first game of the season &045;&045; a 62-0 win over Sumter High School &045;&045; the DHS program has kept one eye on the ultimate prize. Even Goodwin will admit that.

Yes, DHS fans have known all season that the cards were stacked in the Tigers’ favor. No, the deck of cards didn’t appear in one season. It’s taken some time to reach what has finally arrived.