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Demopolis All-Stars prepare to take on Mississippi

It sounds like Mission:Impossible. Doug Goodwin’s coaching mission–he chooses to accept it–is to mold a team of players who have never played with each other before and who have never run Goodwin’s offense before into a unit capable of moving the ball against the best high school defenders Mississippi has to offer.

And, oh yeah, he’s got four days to make it happen. Otherwise, Alabama’s hopes for a win in this week’s Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic will–like the top-secret messages in the old TV show–self-destruct.

Fortunately for DHS head football coach Goodwin and the Alabama All-Stars he’s working with as the team’s offensive coordinator, with the talent on hand four days should be enough.

“Luckily, most of the players have been exposed to an offense like this, so most of what we’re having to teach them is the terminology,” Goodwin said from Mobile in a phone interview Thursday. “There’s a certain set of rules for the game that mean we’re limited in terms of what we can do with formations. You have to have two backs in the game, for instance. So it’s not a big problem. We’re doing a lot of what we normally do.”

Regardless of the familiarity of the players, being able to install as much of the offense as Goodwin would like means just about as much practice as possible.

“It’s a busy time,” he says. “We get up, go practice, eat lunch, go back and practice some more, and then have some other activities and meetings. We’re keeping them pretty busy.”

Another factor helping his efforts, Goodwin says, is the sheer quality of the players under his direction.

“No doubt,” he says, when asked if he was enjoying coaching players of the All-Star team’s caliber. “I love coaching any player. But it’s a different experience when the whole team, everyone, has signed on to play at some college in the future. These are the best players in the state. There’s a lot I’d like to take home with me.”

One last reason for Goodwin’s confidence heading into Saturday night’s main event? He’s more than a little familiar with one of his two QBs.

“Devin’s doing very well,” he says, referring to his son, the two-year DHS starter and state record holder for TD passes in a season. “He’s working hard and helping Jarod [Bryant, Alabama Mr. Football and ex-Hoover QB] learn the offense. They’ve accepted the leadership role that comes with being the quarterbacks on the team. They’re getting along really well.”

Part of that good relationship the younger Goodwin has been able to forge with Bryant comes from their many similarities. Both have won with remarkable consistence, both were lightly recruited because of what recruiters saw as height issues, and both share a comparable quarterbacking style.

“They’re very similar quarterbacks,” coach Goodwin says. “Devin’s a little bit better passer, Jarod’s a little bit better runner.”

The similarities have not gone unnoticed by the state media that have flocked to Mobile to cover the game. The Mobile Register, Birmingham News, and Associated Press have all written stories exploring the bond between the two QBs. It’s a comparison the younger Goodwin has said he has no problem with.

“We’re a lot alike,” he told the Register. “The main thing is for us to win and me and him have been pretty good at doing that.”

But why would winning be the main thing in what essentially amounts to an exhibition game? Goodwin says that since the All-Star Classic will be his last time to pull on a set of shoulder pads before trading them in for a pitcher’s glove, motivation is no problem.

“Not going to college to play football, I just really wanted to play one more time because I know I’m going to miss it,” Goodwin was quoted as saying. “I could have gone and played football, but I felt like I had a better chance to go a little further in baseball. I’m built better for it. They kind of stereotype quarterbacks a little bit. They want you to be tall.”

Goodwin told the News that “it doesn’t matter” which of the two QBs starts or plays on a given series–he knows the coaching staff will give both of them plenty of time. His father confirmed that Thursday, saying that the two would alternate series throughout the game and that he expected both to play very well.

Coach Goodwin added that, with all of the attention paid to Devin, it was important that Demopolis fans not forget that another Tiger, defensive line star Ray Williams, is in Mobile and gearing up for Saturday night.

“Ray’s doing really well too,” he says. “We’ve heard a lot of positive comments from the defensive staff about him.”

The Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic is scheduled for this Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium. According to the Alabama High School Athletic association website, there is currently no television coverage but fans can listen in via internet radio at the AHSAA’s site, www.ahsaa.com.