Learning the ropes

Published 10:30 pm Tuesday, October 28, 2008

In its first year in existence, the Demopolis Youth Football League’s 7-and-8-year-old team is headed to the second round of the playoffs thanks to a 28-19 win over Bibb County at home last Saturday.

The team’s record, which currently stands at 5-3, is remarkable considering the 0-3 start the squad endured.

“At the beginning of the season we worried about making sure all the boy played enough,” head coach Patrick Akins said. Since that time, Akins and his staff have focused on primarily playing the older players while developing the younger ones.

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“We’re trying to build a program,” Akins said before commending players such as Chris Flowers, Charles Casper and Tyler Elmore who he says have made great strides in supplementary roles.

“Those kids have just (developed),” Akins said. “They know what is going on out here. When they come out here next years, they’ll know what’s expected of them.”

The expectations placed on the new league’s youngest age group are considerably different than those placed on the two older age groups.

The 7-and-8-year-old age group’s older counterparts are expected to learn the terminology and execution of Demopolis High School head coach Tom Causey’s system. The younger players, however, are not.

“The reason we don’t use (Causey’s system) is because it’s complicated,” Akins said. “Most of ours is just basic I-backfield and we run straight at (opposing defenses).”

Akins and assistant coaches, Wyatt Williams, Tony Pittman, Nepo Scott and Tony Logan are charged primarily with the task of teaching the players the basics of football.

“If it wouldn’t have been for them,” Akins said of his assistants, “we wouldn’t be where we are right now. I tell them what I want and they get it done.”

Akins said he is continually amazed by the progress his players have made over the course of the season.

“If we get beat 100-0 Saturday, with the leaps and bounds these kids have made since the beginning of the year, it won’t matter,” Akins said. “We’ve come a million miles from the first day. We had kids that didn’t even know how to put a mouthpiece in. They didn’t know what centers were. They didn’t know what guards were.”

Akins said this season has been the first exposure many of his players have had to the game.

“We’ve got a lot of young kids on this team,” Akins said. “We only have six that have every played before.”

That youth showed its effects early in the season when the team went 0-3. Included in that sluggish start was a 22-0 loss to Greene County, the team Demopolis will meet again in the second round of the playoffs Saturday in Moundville.

“Out of eight games, we’ve played at home twice,” Akins said. “The majority of our wins were on the road.”

Akins said his team’s success Saturday will not be dictated by the final numbers on the scoreboard.

“I don’t think it even effects them,” Akins said of the pressure that normally accompanies playoff situations. “I don’t know if winning and losing affects them. And we don’t harp on it. This is all about having fun. When the game’s over with, it’s over with.”

The team is scheduled for a morning kickoff in Moundville Saturday.