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Win or go home

Demopolis hits the road tonight to take on 5A’s No. 3 ranked Shelby County Wildcats in the second round of the AHSAA, Class 5A state playoffs.

“It means nothing to us,” DHS senior quarterback Rick Boone said of the Wildcats’ Top 5 state ranking. “It doesn’t matter what name is on the jersey, we just want to play football.

The squads have met in each of the previous two seasons. The Tigers took both of those meetings.

“They’ve got a great fullback,” DHS head coach Tom Causey said of Shelby County bruiser Darrion Sutton. “He’s hard to tackle. He runs the ball with a purpose.”

Sutton leads the Wildcats this year with 1,583 yards and 23 touchdowns on 276 carries.

“Obviously they’ve got a great football team,” Causey said. “We’re going to have to be spot on tackling.”

The Wildcats have also relied heavily upon running back Tae Lewis, who has compiled 829 yards and 18 touchdowns on 78 carries.

Shelby County utilized three 100-yard rushers to prevail over Chilton County 41-31 after trailing by as many as 10 points in the second half. Sutton lead the way for SCHS with 184 yards and two touchdowns while Lewis added 148 yards and two scores. Quarterback Braten Dill also picked up 117 yards and two touchdowns for the Wildcats.

“We’re ready, to tell you the truth,” Demopolis junior Tremaine Sanders. “We’re looking forward to going against them because we’ve had a good week of practice.”

In addition to the three strong runners who will don red tonight for the Wildcats, Causey said Shelby County boasts a formidable offensive line.

“They’ve got a tremendous offensive line,” Causey said.

However, Sanders and his teammates along the Demopolis defensive front say they are ready for the task at hand.

“They’re offensive line ain’t ready for what our defensive line is going to bring,” Sanders said before turning his attention to a continually improving Tiger offensive line. “They’re very good. They’ve gotten to a point that they can handle us now. They’re getting stronger everyday, physically and mentally.”

“It’s the same challenge for those guys every week,” Causey said of his offensive linemen. “they’re going to play a good defensive front. But tey’ll go out there and they’ll battle and they’ll give us everything they’ve got.”

That line will likely be put to the test tonight as it faces a statistically stout Shelby County defense.

“Their defense is pretty good,” Causey said. “they don’t give up but 14 points a game.”

The Tigers clinched a berth into the second round with a 56-35 win over Sylacauga last Friday night. Demopolis trailed the Aggies 14-0 early in the game before erupting for 28 points in the second frame.

“It was just the first-round jitters,” Boone said. “It’s out of us now and we’re ready to play.”

After the win, Causey said his team had some areas to tweak.

“There were a lot of things we had to work on,” Causey said. Among those, Causey said, were a re-emphasis on protecting the ball. Causey also said the team discussed the importance of finishing strong.

“We’re just trying to do the best we can to lead this group up because we’re not just playing for this year,” Boone said of a senior class that has helped lead a resurgent Tiger team to the playoffs. “We’re playing for the rest of (our teammates) four years too.”

The winner of tonight’s contest will face the team that emerges victorious from the game between Carver and Briarwood Christian.