FROM THE SIDELINES: Legacy of DHS seniors still undetermined

Published 11:34 am Thursday, October 29, 2009

Demopolis’ seniors will be honored before Thursday night’s game against Thomasville. It is an annual rite of passage of sorts, signifying the unofficial end to a high school football career.

Parents escort their children onto the field. Tears are shed. Hugs are exchanged. And a short lifetime of football memories often hangs as the backdrop, unseen yet entirely tangible.

Then, on command, the players must put the emotional moment away and focus on their opponent. Last year, it was Greenville. This year, it is rival Thomasville. As if this game didn’t carry enough emotion without the added sentimentality of senior night.

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What is intriguing about this particular group of Demopolis High seniors is that its legacy is still undetermined. Its predecessors in last year’s class rallied from a 1-4 start to finish second in the area and make a run deep into the playoffs. As of senior night, their legacy was largely in place.

When things were at their worst, that group found its best. Those seniors molded themselves into leaders, by explicit and implicit means. They put an entire team on their backs and ran within one play of the semifinal round of the playoffs.

But what can be said of this year’s seniors? At this point, no one is really sure. Individually, fans and observers can provide volumes of commentary on the talent each possesses. We know about what Martaze Jackson can do. We know how hard it is to block Tremaine Sanders. We know what Davon Bryant has added to the defensive line. We know that Tre Jones is the most unheralded player on the defensive unit. We know that Anthony Hardy can make plays on both sides of the ball. We know that Jeremy Wallace has been tremendous since his return. We know how hard Darnell Hammond works. We know that Larry Cobb is solid at receiver and corner. We know that Fred Irby provides a deep threat like so very few others. We know that Larry Dunn will out effort nearly anybody in the state. We know that Caleb Garrett is the emotional leader of the offensive line. We know about Willie Wallace and Jerelle Moss and Ben McCarter and Wiley Isaac and Dalvin Harris and Hunter Wells and Trent Blackwood.

Those players will take with them a tremendous amount of talent when they depart the halls of Demopolis High School. But what will they leave behind?

That is the question that no one within the DHS football program can yet answer. There have certainly been glimpses of their collective ability. There have been indicators that this team could end up hoisting a trophy in Tuscaloosa.

Then again, there have also been indicators that this team could roll over in week one of the playoffs and make an early exit from the AHSAA postseason. That scene will look a lot like the one that will be on display before Thursday night’s game with Thomasville. There will be tears. Hugs will be exchanged. And a short lifetime of football memories will hang as the backdrop, unseen yet tangible. Only, there will be no next game on which to focus. That will be it. High school playing days and for most, football itself will be a memory.

Which will it be for this year’s seniors? That question can only be adequately answered by the 17 young men who will walk off the Tiger Stadium turf for what may be the final time Thursday night.