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Demopolis fares well in first summer competition

Demopolis went 2-1-1 at Jackson High School Thursday evening during its first seven-on-seven competition of the summer.

“Overall, it was a very productive afternoon,” assistant head coach Joey Browder said. “We were able to work on our passing game and focused on routes and reads offensively. Our linebackers and defensive backs were able to see some different looks and work on our coverages.”

Demopolis opened the afternoon against host team Jackson, falling 20-7 in the contest.

“We came out real tight and, I think, nervous in the opening game against Jackson and didn’t look like Demopolis at all,” Browder said.

Junior quarterback Ben Pettus ran the offense for Demopolis, throwing for 53 yards, a touchdown and an extra-point in the game. Jeremy Wallace had four receptions for 25 yards and an extra-point conversion catch. Anthony Hardy had one catch for six yards while Larry Cobb hauled in two passes for 22 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, Tremaine Irby led the way for Demopolis with an interception.

Following the first game, Browder said the team sat down for a quick chat.

“They came back and played good football,” Browder said. “We had our talk and the kids responded.”

The Tigers’ second game of the day saw Demopolis take a 19-7 win against Andalusia.

“We started out kind of slow, but we ended up strong and competed,” defensive coordinator Rudy Griffin said of his unit’s effort.

Pettus passed for 38 yards in the game. Wallace headed up the effort in the receiving corps, making five catches for 35 yards. Kiandre Adams and Jerry Campbell each had a reception in the game.

Irby had an interception while Hardy and Michael Davis returned an interception for a touchdown.

“He’s looking good,” Griffin said of Davis, who is moving to the inside linebacker position. “He was playing outside linebacker last year. He’s stepping right in and being a leader. He kind of baited the quarterback to throw the ball, he undercut the route, took it to the house and scored.”

In their third game, the Tigers defeated Leroy 14-6.

Pettus threw for 75 yards in the contest. Hardy had five receptions for 28 yards, a touchdown and an extra-point conversion. Cobb had two catches for 34 yards and a touchdown. Wallace, Campbell and Wiley Isaac each caught a pass in the game.

On the defensive side. Fred Irby deflected a pass that Martaze Jackson reeled in and nearly returned for a touchdown.

“Martaze had a big day,” Griffin said of the defensive end who has been working to convert to outside linebacker during the offseason. “He looked dang good. He looked like he’s been playing there his whole career.”

Demopolis played to a stalemate in its final contest, tying with Robertsdale 14-14.

The Tigers built a 14-0 lead before allowing RHS to rally back.

Pettus passed for 82 yards, two touchdowns and a pair of extra-point conversion in the game.

Fred Irby had two catches for 25 yards and a touchdown in the game. Hardy had two catches for 10 yards. Cobb had two snags for 43 yards, a touchdown and an extra-point. Wallace had one grab. The Tigers appeared to have the game-winning score when Damarcus James caught at 25-yard touchdown pass on a wheel route out of the backfield. However, the play was called back on an unclean snap.

“We left with a good feeling,” Browder said. “I don’t ever feel like we’re where we need to be, but I feel like we’re way ahead of where we were at this time last year.”

The seven-on-seven competition does little to help Demopolis gauge fully where it is as the squad is predominantly a running team. However, such competitions do provide some benefits.

“I think the really important thing about these seven-on-sevens is that they give us an outlet of competition. They give the kids reps,” Browder said.

The evening also gave the coaching staff its first prolonged look at Pettus as the team’s primary quarterback.

“Ben has been working extremely hard,” Browder said. “He’s got a long way to go passing wise. I don’t think he sees a lot just yet. But that doesn’t concern me. He is right on the money making the reads in the run game.”

“He looked okay,” quarterbacks coach Kyle Williams said of Pettus. “He started out a little nervous. Then he started making his reads instead of forcing things and he looked pretty good.”

The competitions also allow the defensive coaches to get a better read on how their personnel responds to certain situations. Griffin said Thursday brought with it a startling revelation.

“We’re going to be deep in the secondary,” he said of an area in which the Tigers struggled at times in 2008. “Realistically, we have seven or eight guys that can play the cornerback position. We have a plethora of talent in the secondary.”

Griffin said similar depth has become evident at the other positions on the defense, providing the program with a deeper, more talented second unit than it had a season ago.

Demopolis will return to seven-on-seven competition July 7 when it travels to Thomasville.