Potent offense key to Demopolis season
HOOVER – It doesn’t make much sense to say that Dustin Gracie and his two touchdown receptions weren’t the most important aspects of Friday nights Class 4A state championship win for Demopolis High.
Then again, Gracie’s second TD catch that went for 64 yards might not have been as important had Chris Cupit not made what possibly was a championship-saving tackle.
With 5:12 left in the first quarter, and neither Demopolis nor Deshler able to kick-start their offenses, Deshler finally found a hole in the DHS defense.
Duran Coger, who rushed 16 times for 125 yards, took a hand-off with Deshler facing a third-and-five at its own 27 yard line.
Coger broke through the left side of his offensive line and appeared to have just green grass in front of him.
From nearly more than 15 yards away, Cupit put Coger in his sights and caught the speedy back – literally – by the shoe strings.
The touchdown-saving tackle eventually resulted in a Deshler punt. On the next possession, Demopolis took the ball from Deshler’s 10 yard line and marched 90 yards on 11 plays to break the seal on the scoreboard at the Hoover Met.
That touchdown, by the way, was the first of Gracie’s two game-leading TDs. And while it may seem peculiar that one Demopolis tackle was the most important of the game, consider what likely would have happened had Coger put the ball in the endzone first.
Throughout Friday night’s Class 4A championship game, Demopolis couldn’t do something to Deshler that it had done to every other team this season.
“That was a good football team we played out there,” Demopolis head coach Doug Goodwin said. “Every time we went up by two touchdowns, they would always fight back and score. They never let us put them away.”
Deshler had every opportunity to lie down and play dead when the Demopolis offense figured out a way to find holes in the stingy Deshler defense. Rather, Deshler never quit. Not once. And imagine what might have happened if Deshler had put seven points on the scoreboard before Demopolis did. What if Demopolis would have been the one playing from behind?
Playing from behind is always hardest. Deshler, like Demopolis, didn’t fall behind to too many teams this season, and when they got behind Demopolis, they continued pressing. Imagine, then, if they had been the ones playing with the lead.
Would their killer instinct have come out and tacked on another couple of touchdowns with their speedy backs? Would they have gotten inside the heads of the Demopolis players and frustrated the now state champs?
That’s a matter for debate; then again, there’s no real sense in debating that now.
The Demopolis High family will look at Dustin Gracie’s touchdown runs and the Tigers’ scoring record, and Devin Goodwin’s touchdown-passes record and assume that a potent offense was the reason for the Tigers’ undefeated season and first state championship.
When fans watch a replay of Friday night’s game, they might consider watching No. 30 for Demopolis about mid-way through the first quarter.
Chris Cupit’s touchdown-saving tackle may have been the most important play in the Tigers’ state championship game.