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Tigers vs. Tigers scrimmage highlights jamboree games

How close is the 2005 high school football season? So close referees already have their zebra shirts out of the closet, the scoreboard and lights are already getting fired up, and teams are already banging into each other for every yard they can get.

Of course, none of it counts just yet. The season doesn’t begin until next week, August 25 and 26. But with official kickoff so close, as they do every year, any number of area teams are polishing up their skills and measuring the work left to do with a Jamboree scrimmage.

Already, West Alabama Prep has taken the practice field against the Titans’ ex-coach Bob Taylor and his Sumter Academy squad. Southern Academy and Marengo Academy have each scrimmaged with teams just outside the area. A.L. Johnson has a jamboree game scheduled Thursday, and on Friday night comes the scrimmage Demopolis fans have been waiting for since December as the Tigers host Thomasville.

Why have a Jamboree game? Simple, says DHS head coach Doug Goodwin: it’s better to have full-speed game experience before things get serious than to go without.

“It’s a good dress rehearsal,” he says. “You get nervous the first time out under the lights, so it’s good to get the butterflies out.”

This Friday will hardly be the first time that Thomasville and Demopolis have squared off in the pre-season, as scheduling difficulties have meant that the Jamboree game is the only certain time the two schools can meet.

“They’re comparable in a lot of ways. We haven’t been able to work it out where we could play them in the regular season, so this will be the fourth or fifth year we’ve played them,” Goodwin says. “They’re a good gauge for us. You don’t want to play somebody you go out and just and kill.”

Some might question giving Thomasville so good a look at the 2005 Demopolis team when a possible playoff confrontation might wait down the line, as it did in 2004. But Goodwin says that the two team’s goals for the scrimmage will be so focused that neither team will learn nearly as much about their opponent as they will about themselves.

“They’ll work on specific things and we’ll work on specific things,” Goodwin says. “We’re not going to game-plan for them and they’re not going to game-plan for us. We’re just looking for effort and seeing how much we’ve improved since the spring.”

That means that if the looks either team shows are just about irrelevant, the final score is doubly so. Goodwin says that during his tenure at Linevillle, his team defeated a regular-season opponent they had lost to during a jamboree game 58-0.

“I wouldn’t read anything into it,” he says.

So what can fans take seriously at the scrimmage? The coaches will be looking at problem areas that have surfaced during practice, including, for Demopolis, the punting game and potentially the Tiger’s play up front on both offense and defense.

“We’ll be looking at the line of scrimmage as much as anything,” Goodwin says. “We’re talented enough in other areas, but we’ve got to come around on the line, on both sides of the ball.”

For further in-depth coverage of the Tigers’ preparation for the 2005 season, check out the Times’ High School Football Preview, available Wednesday.