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DHS soccer to open new facility

It is a brand new era for the Demopolis High School soccer team. The team will play its first game of the 2010 season Tuesday on its freshly finished, on-campus field.

“It’s huge,” head coach Peter Keen said. “Especially for the seniors because they have been with me for five years. We’ve gone from the Sports-Plex to the old stadium to, now, on the high school campus. We’re ecstatic about playing in it.”

A few weeks ago, the facility was nearing completion but it looked as if the team would be unable to play its season opener on the field, which will also be shared by the DHS track team. It took a concerted effort on the part of a number of local supporters to get the field done in time.

Included in that number are Luis Lopez of Cemex, Chuck Smith of Rock-Tenn, Byron Cook and his staff at the Demopolis water department and Steven Rodrigues.

“The parents and players are very appreciative of the work they did to help us get the field ready for play,” Keen explained.

The team finds itself surrounded by a great deal of buzz as it readies for Tuesday’s season opener, excitement that seems to be tied to much more than the opening of the new facility.

“There is a good chance we will go into the playoffs if they work hard,” Keen said. “They definitely have the talent, both tactical and technical.”

Onlookers’ optimism and Keen’s perspective seem to be verified by the team’s recent success. Two seasons ago, the program saw Rob Cooke sign with Faulkner University. Last season, the team flirted with its first playoff berth.

“We were one game away last year, at one point,” assistant coach Keith Jackson said. “That was the difference in us and Walker County making the playoffs.”

The team returns the majority of the squad that made a late season run in 2009, giving those within the program reason to believe new heights are achievable in 2010.

“These guys who have been with me for five years have been playing this sport for five years now. This should be our strongest year,” Keen said. “With Rob they were young. With (2009 senior leader Tyler Brooker) they were maturing. Now they are the leaders of the program. I believe we will go further than we’ve ever been this year.”

“We’re older, more experienced this year where we didn’t used to have that,” Jackson added. “We’ve picked up some speed. We’re, overall, more balanced than we were.”

The Tigers will take to the new field for the first time Tuesday when they play Jeff Davis High at 4 p.m. Regular tickets are $6 and $3 for students. Season tickets are are good for admission to all 10 home games and are available for $45.