From the Sidelines: A fitting game for stadium’s debut

Published 8:35 pm Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Friday night was electric. Months of anticipation and years of planning finally produced the first football game ever in Tiger Stadium. And, truth be told, a more fitting game could not have been scripted for the occasion.

For a team that entered the season with state championship aspirations, certain questions needed to be answered.

First, there was the issue of quarterback. The Tigers knew long ago that Ben Pettus would be their guy. What they did not know – what they could not know – was how Pettus would fare when encircled by the glare of Friday night lights, the blare of marching bands, the snare of defensive linemen and the stare of a few thousand hungry fans.

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What they found out was Ben Pettus – the gangly, goofy, laid back kid – ran the offense effectively in practice and would still be Ben Pettus.

The Tigers needed to find out if they could win a game without having to rely solely upon their run game. After getting 161 of their 302 total yards in the air, all indications are that they can. On a night when Damarcus James, among the most reliable offensive weapons in the state, was held out of the end zone despite amassing 137 rushing yards, the Tigers walked away with a victory over a talented 6A Wetumpka.

Demopolis did not know exactly how good its defense would be with what essentially served as an entirely new starting linebacking corps. What they found was that Michael Davis can make the plays he should make in the middle and shows the promise of soon being able to make the plays he shouldn’t be able to make all over the field.

They found that their secondary has the speed and the depth to keep up with and contain faster teams. They found their defensive line can make plays, even when teams are keying on Tremaine Sanders and Martaze Jackson.

They found that their offensive line has talent, but still must develop their chemistry. They found that they can win a close game, something with which they struggled during the early portion of the 2008 season.

But, perhaps more than anything, the Tigers found out just how tough of an environment Demopolis can be when a community comes together to support a team.

The atmosphere was raucous and more than just a little intimidating. That kind of support can go far in helping a team. If such an atmosphere can be duplicated in the Tigers’ five remaining regular season home games, the team is all the more than likely to procure at least a couple more home contests in the postseason. Just imagine how loud that crowd could be.