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Maintaining championship focus

After drawing a bye in the first round by virtue of their status as the tournament’s No. 1 team, the Demopolis 11-and-12-year-old football squad is preparing to travel to Moundville Saturday for the second round of the playoffs.

“It’s been very surprising what these kids are able to do if you just challenge them,” assistant coach Chip Hughes said of team that went 6-1 during the regular season.

“We were talking (Monday) and looking at what we were able to do offensively,” head coach Joe Tidmore said. “I think at this point we’ve been able to put in a lot of what (DHS head football coach Tom) Causey does.”

The league, in its first year in Demopolis, is designed to allow players to not only develop familiarity with one another, but also with the system in which they will perform at the high school level.

The team will take on Hillcrest when it resumes play Saturday following its off week.

“The first time we played them they ran a 5-3,” Tidmore said. “We may see some of that. But they’ve switched to a 4-4.”

“They’re a mistake free, very disciplined football team,” Hughes added.

Both coaches touted Hillcrest’s special teams play. The squad played to its strength Saturday against Bibb County when it utilized an onside kick every time it scored in the first-round win.

Tidmore said his team has heightened its expectations since the beginning of the season and looks to be playing in the tournament’s final game.

“They’re sights are closer to seeing the championship game,” Tidmore said. “But we’re trying to keep focused on the next game.”

Tidmore said focus was a considerable problem when the team suffered its only blemish of the season again Holt a few weeks ago.

“When we played Holt we beat ourselves. They didn’t beat us,” Tidmore said. “It was a tremendous gut check.”

“We’ve come together as a team,” Hughes said. “If we win the championship, Holt will probably be a big part of the reason why.”

The team took to the practice field across from Demopolis Middle School Monday and took its reps adjacent to the Demopolis High School squad.

“We had a good practice because of seeing them,” Tidmore said of his team’s response to the intensity it saw displayed in the DHS practice.

The team is scheduled to kickoff at 3:20 in Moundville Saturday.