Title game was a meeting of two ‘freakish’ football teams

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 13, 2004

HOOVER – It’s not every day when being described as a “freak” is the best compliment you can get. Then again, Friday night’s 35-21 loss to Demopolis High School wasn’t the best day in the world for Deshler head coach John Mothershed.

All year long, Mothershed had to answer questions about the ability of his football team.

“I’ve kind of gotten tired of having to answer people who ask me if this is the best Deshler football team ever,” Mothershed said. “We’re kind of a freak football team.”

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Then again, Mothershed said there was another odd group of high school football players in “south Alabama.”

“Isn’t it something that there’s a freakish football team in the southern part of the state?”

That “freakish” team happened to be Demopolis High.

“I can tell you, there’s not a better team in the state of Alabama than Demopolis,” Mothershed said.

When Mothershed calls Demopolis a freak, he means it in the nicest possible way. And to an extent, Mothershed is exactly right in his opinion.

Dustin Gracie was a freak in that he went from being the Tigers’ leading rusher on most nights to becoming the Tigers’ leading receiver on Friday night.

Devin Goodwin was a freak because he never, ever, never got rattled. Not once did Goodwin beat his team, and for a high school football quarterback, that normally happens at least a couple of times a year. And let us not forget the other freakish thing Demopolis High and Goodwin did this year. They finished the season with 761 points – breaking the record of Maplesville by 43 points. Goodwin finished the season with 51 touchdown passes – smashing the state record of 45 set by Russellville’s Jake Tompkins a couple of years back.

The Demopolis High defensive line and linebackers were freakish because they should have given up when Deshler found a way to get around the ends. No other team has done that to the Tigers this year, and it should have been difficult for Demopolis High to keep its head up.

“We told [the linebackers] that we needed to get to the football, and we kept fighting,” assistant coach James Moody said after the game. “It’s a credit to Deshler that they were able to keep running on us.”

It’s also a credit to Demopolis that Deshler couldn’t run outside enough to beat the Tigers. Maybe it should be called “freakish.”

Throughout the 2004 season, Demopolis High has done things that seemed like they were ordinary. But like DHS principal Ronald Roberts said as the Tigers received their state championship trophy: “This is a special group of guys.”

What Demopolis High School accomplished this season was not ordinary. They weren’t supposed to break all kinds of records; they weren’t supposed to beat the No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 5 teams in the state and do it convincingly. They weren’t supposed to score more points than any other team in football history.

No, what the Tigers did this season was by no means ordinary.

It was freakish.