GHS, DHS ready for Game of the Week

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 6, 2005

Last year’s Greensboro-Demopolis game finished 62-0. But it would be quite the surprise to Doug Goodwin if it finished that way again.

“They’re a lot better than they were last year,” says the Demopolis head coach. “They’re mighty big, with good team speed. They’re pretty quick on defense and they have good skill people…I expect it to be a good game.”

Not surprisingly, the Greensboro coaching staff feels the same way. Although head coach Michael Reynolds was unavailable Wednesday, assistants Jack Hazelrig and Heath Randall say they expect their team to come out and go toe-to-toe with the state’s second-ranked 4A team.

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“They’re ready for the challenge,” Hazelrig says. “They seem like they’re focused in practice. If we come out and play hard for four quarters, we think we’ll be right there.”

Hazelrig says the despite last year’s result and the 21-game winning streak Demopolis will carry into the game, the Raiders won’t be intimidated. Greensboro is coming off of what Hazelrig says is the “biggest win we’ve had for a couple of years,” a 14-12 win over Bibb Co. that has the Raiders in the hunt for another playoff berth after last year’s 4-6 season.

“We came out with a lot of intensity last week and we have to do that again,” he says. “We respect DHS and what they’ve done the last several years. We’re excited about playing them.”

But will that excitement and intensity make a difference on the scoreboard? It can, Hazelrig says, if they do something basically no Tiger opponent has been able to do yet this year: “Contain Miller,” he says.

That would be Dontrell Miller, Demopolis’s senior quarterback who between his 1043 passing yards and 381 rushing yards has accounted for 55.3 percent of DHS’s total offense in 2005. But Hazelrig also says that Miller is far from the Tigers’ only weapon, noting that DHS’s three-deep at tailback–starter Rock Jones, Lucius Haywood, and Calvin Bryant–is a threat as well.

“We have to get as many people to the ball as we can,” Hazelrig says. “They break a lot of tackles. We need a lot of people flying to the ball.”

The players doing most of the flying will be the Raiders’ speedy linebacking corps of junior Travis Harris, senior Bruce Brown, and sophomore Dantrille Lee. There will also be a lot of pressure on safeties Ivory White, a junior, and Demarquelle Tabb, a freshman, to help out against the run without being burned by Demopolis big play receiver Dwiuan White, leading the Tigers with 415 receiving yards and a whopping 29.6 yards per catch.

As tough a time as the Raiders might have stopping the DHS offense, they might have an equally hard time moving the ball against a Demopolis defense now averaging a total of two points per game. The combination of ball-control offense and stout defense was one thing Goodwin says he was pleased with in an otherwise uninspired performance last Friday at Southside.

“Every time we got something going we seemed to have a penalty that would set us back,” Goodwin said about the game, adding that he was also less than satisfied with the playing conditions. “But we wanted to run the ball at them and we did that pretty well, and defensively we did pretty well.”

Despite Demopolis’s defensive record and the presence of players like Jacob Smelley, the Tigers’ leading tackler with 52 stops, and Ezell Braxton, who leads the team with 9 sacks and three forced fumbles, Randall says the Raiders can move the ball if they execute.

“We have to minimize our mistakes,” he says. “You can’t make mistakes against a team like Demopolis.”

The Raider for whom not making mistakes will be most critical is quarterback White. The Raider coaches say White, who had never played organized football until coming out for the spring and will be starting only his sixth game, has made huge strides.

“He’s getting better and better,” Hazelrig says.

Giving White a hand will be backfield mates Roderick Travis and Bruce Brown, and a sizable offensive line that includes center Antonio Robinson, tackles Adrian Rollins and Adrian Williams, and guards Chris Parker and Mario Bragg.

It will most likely take, as Randall points out, a nearly error-free game from the Raiders to emerge with a victory Friday. As far as Greensboro has come, Goodwin says their Friday opponent has done a lot of improving since the beginning of the 2005 season–but that it’s not done improving yet.

“I’m never totally happy. We strive for perfection and we’re never going to get there. We are getting better,” he says,” “but the biggest thing we have to understand is that there’s still some things we’ve got to work on. There’s still a lot of room for improvement.”