Playoff haze starts to clear up

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 18, 2007

Let&8217;s jump right into this week&8217;s games that are slated for tonight shall we:

Dallas County (1-6, 1-4) at Demopolis (6-1, 4-1)

Let&8217;s put this one in perspective and be charitable as well, Dallas County football has seen better days. For instance, they have been white washed in four of their last five games. The game they scored in was a 36-18 loss to Keith, a 2A team.

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The last time Dallas County High School was a force was when the guy who is now roaming the Demop sidelines was their coach. For the record, the coach&8217;s name is Tom Causey. Thus, I would bet you a dollar to a doughnut this game has special meaning to Coach Causey.

Their records above are absolute polar opposites for a reason. Demopolis High School has gotten better each week as Causey and crew have fine tuned their offense and moved people around to utilize athletic ability and speed. Also, it appears that the kids have begun to understand the relationship of hard work to the thrill of victory.

This is the last regular season home game for the River City Cats. The Tigers are in the drivers seat for no worse than second place in the region. All that is required is not to let the distractions of homecoming cloud their thoughts and preparation. After tonight there are a couple of business trips to Brookwood and Eutaw to finish off the regular season. Then, barring any unforeseen slip-ups, they are back home for the first round of the playoffs against one of the Mobile teams.

I keep reflecting back to the 2003 game. Demopolis went to the Hornets nest in Plantersville and were mugged in the first half. I am talking Dallas County physically whipped the Tigers in the first two quarters and carried a 10-point plus lead into halftime. The DCHS fans were all over the Demop guys as they went by on their way to the locker room. Lots of taunts and jeers by about DHS being overrated.

The second half was all DHS and it seems the Hornets have not been the same since that loss.

Having said that, it is worth considering Dallas County has nothing at stake in this game. They are going nowhere in November when the playoffs begin. This game and the following weeks against Chilton County and Selma are their &8216;playoff&8217; appearances. Tonight&8217;s game will not be a total lay down by Dallas County. They will offer some resistance.

If the Hornets have anything to show it may well be tonight.

Spotlight question of last week: For the second week in a row can the Demopolis speed positively match up with a bunch of big ole big&8217;uns?

Answer: Oh yeah.

John Essex (1-6, 0-5) at Akron (0-6, 0-4)

This is one of those must win games for both teams. It represents their best opportunity to snatch a regional win for the year. For Akron, it might be their only chance for a win period.

John Essex is out of the playoff configuration for this year. But there is the simple matter of pride. 2007 may not have turned out as planned but there&8217;s still the chance of redemption and laying the groundwork for next year.

Next week the Hornets travel to Sweet Water, so get it while you can tonight.

Sweet Water (6-0, 4-0) at South Lamar (3-3, 2-2)

In 1A Region 4, once you get past Sweet Water and Linden leading the region as one and two respectively, you have three teams fighting for the remaining two PO spots. These three teams are Sunshine, South Lamar and A.L. Johnson. They are all jumbled up with the shakeout starting tonight.

South Lamar is on a roll, downhill. The Stallions were pummeled 67-6 last week in Linden. They have now lost three in a row. Barring a mechanical breakdown on the team bus and the band has to suit up and play, it looks like it will be four in a row for SLHS.

A.L. Johnson (4-2, 2-2) at Sunshine (5-2, 3-2)

In the above paragraph I mentioned one (South Lamar) of the three teams in the running for the two playoff spots, here are the other two.

This is the regional finale for Sunshine. The Tigers have now won four in row after back-to-back losses to Linden and Sweet Water. Next week they are open.

ALJ has the rougher road to &8216;playoffville.&8217; Yet here is the classic opportunity for one to control their own destiny. Obviously a win tonight moves them up a peg in the conference race. Next week, Linden must come to Thomaston. If the Eagles could pull off both of these knockoffs they would move from being on the bubble to the No. 2 spot in the region.

After Southern, the SHS Tigers may be the second best team in Hale County. The Eagles are &8216;straight outta Thomaston&8217; but the forecast says there&8217;s a lotta Sunshine on Friday night.

Sparta (4-3) at Southern (7-0)

That&8217;s 12 TD&8217;s and PATs last week against Jackson.

Now settle down boys and girls, before you start thinking that Southern deserves to be in the BCS rankings and their offense is unstoppable, consider this. Jackson fumbled 8 times, count them, lost three and had two of those oopsies returned for scores. That&8217;s not all, the Southern &8216;D&8217; earned more props by returning three interceptions for TD&8217;s.

I believe it would be safe to say, Jackson was a little outmanned.

Sparta comes to G&8217;boro tonight as the last appetizer on the menu before big, bad Bessemer comes to town next week.

I hope the Sparta mascot&8217;s name is Spanky because that&8217;s the verdict of tonight&8217;s outing.

Jackson (0-8) at Marengo (5-2)

The novelist and playwright Somerset Maughan was quoted as saying &8220;Sacred cows make the best hamburger.&8221;

After the aforementioned pounding Jackson took from Southern it looks like this week the Marengo herd will be feasting on an in-game meal of &8216;Big Jacks&8217; &8212; eagle-chicken filets of course, but hold the mayo.

The Longhorns have played themselves right back into the playoff picture. A solid win this week will fortify them for next week&8217;s rodeo with Cottage Hill. (Side bar note: this may be the last time these two meet for awhile as Cottage Hill and Faith have applied and have been accepted as members of AHSAA effective next school year)

The spotlight question of the week: Is it possible for Jackson to score on Marengo this week?

Notables from last week

Pancake of the week: Southern 84, Jackson Academy 0

Left the Defense on the Bus: Speake 57, Shoals Christian 32

Low Ball of the week: Fruitdale 7, Marengo High School 0

If we only had a kicker: (Tie) Randolph County 13, Winterboro 12; T.R. Miller 27, Jackson 26

Longest game of the week: Chelsea 52, Moody 51 (OT)

Remember, Demopolis at home at Tiger stadium for the last regular season home game of 2007. Come to the game and do some tailgating; and of course, wear blue.

Until next time, play hard; play for fun; play to win.

Mike Grayson is contributing columnist to the Times.