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Demopolis focused on little things

Friday will mark the third time in three years that the Demopolis Tigers will meet the Shelby County Wildcats. This time — like last year — the meeting comes in the AHSAA Class 5A state playoffs.

“Very similar,” Demopolis High School head coach Tom Causey said, comparing Shelby County to its 2008 predecessor. “They lost the fullback they had. They lost a few defensive players. But, for the most part, they are the exact same team as last year.”

Last season, the meeting took place in the second round and the Tigers entered Columbiana at 6-4. Conversely, Shelby County was 11-0 and ranked No. 3 in the state. This season, the meeting takes place in the first round. Demopolis travels to Columbiana at 7-3 while the Wildcats enter at 9-1, the No. 4 team in the state.

The numbers indicate very little difference between the teams. After studying film, Causey sees many of the same things he saw a season ago.

“They are big and physical up front. They like to run the football,” Causey said. “They don’t take a lot of chances on defense. They are very fundamental. They are 9-1 for a reason. They are a good football team.”

The Wildcat returners include senior quarterback Braten Dill, who will be starting against Demopolis for the third time in his high school career. Dill’s top target from a season ago, Tae Lewis, will also be on hand Friday night. Lewis and Dill connected for one of the two SCHS touchdowns in the 28-14 loss to Demopolis last season.

For the Tigers, the gameplan will be similar to what it was the last time they faced off with Shelby County.

“Establish our option game and be able to sustain drives,” Causey said. “Defensively, we’ve got to stop the run, stop their fullback.”

The offensive gameplan sounds simple enough in theory, but the Tigers have found difficulty on that side of the ball of late.

“We’ve just got to do a better job of executing our offense,” Causey said. “We’re not doing a very good job of that right now. We’ve got to keep doing what we do and take care of the little things. If we take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.”

While the Tigers enter the playoffs fresh on the heels of a loss to rival Thomasville, Causey is not discouraged by his teams record. As he scans the field, he takes note of one common them that runs throughout the bracket.

“It’s a very competitive classification,” Causey said, noting that 28 of the 32 teams in the Class 5A bracket have at least two losses to their credit. Two of the Demopolis losses came to undefeated Greenville and one-loss Carver-Montgomery. Friday night, the Tigers hope to make Shelby County the 29th team with two losses.