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Demopolis to face Briarwood Friday

As it moves headlong toward Friday night’s opener at perennial Class 5A power Briarwood Christian, Demopolis is at work trying to fix the problems that caused it to struggle with Sweet Water in last week’s Jamboree game.

“I hope we’re a lot better than we were last Friday,” Demopolis High School head coach Tom Causey said. “We need to be a lot better than we were last week. We didn’t play hard for 48 minutes Friday night.”

The Tigers outpaced the Bulldogs 213 yards to 85 in the first half of Friday night’s game but could scarcely build any momentum thanks in large part to eight penalties that cost the team 60 yards in the first two quarters alone. The Tigers also fumbled the ball on their first possession of the game, a miscue that came immediately after the DHS defense came up with a stop and allowed quarterback Ben Pettus to throw the ball 35 yard downfield for what looked to be a big gain.

“We’re not playing every snap consistently,” Causey said. “That’s the one thing that jumped at me other than penalties.”

The Tigers also saw a few struggles in just the execution of their offense, kinks Causey understands will need to be worked out over the first few weeks of the season.

“(Pettus) missed four or five reads. He’s got to be better at that,” Causey said. “We’re going to try to eliminate some of those this week.”

Despite those blemishes, Pettus put together a solid performance running and throwing the ball in his limited action, totaling more than 130 all-purpose yards alone. If the coaching staff can erase the misreads, Pettus could be even more effective against Briarwood this week.

While the offense tripped over its own feet on a handful of occasions, the defense was also not immune from struggles. In the first possession of the second half, Sweet Water methodically marched the ball down the field against the Demopolis defense. Causey cited that series as a strong indicator of the Tigers’ inconsistencies in terms of effort.

“We had great individual effort. We need great team effort,” Causey said. “Individually, at times, we were good. As a team, we were not. We had a

couple plays go against us and we hung our heads. We’ve got to find a way to come back and get a stop. Especially that first series of the third quarter. Sweet Water held the ball for a long time. I expect better defense out of the locker room.”

The Tiger defense is in its first season under new coordinator Matt Geohagan, who left Russellville to accept the DHS post over the summer. His 3-4 scheme appeared effective Friday night, allowing a number of athletes to make key plays. Neilson Renner, Reid Barkley and Dalanee Reid all made their share of stops from the defensive line while linebackers Terrance Charleston, LaVaughn Terry, Dantrayle Wheeler and Tramaine Irby consistently found themselves around the football. The Tiger defense will need to maintain its intensity for the full game against Briarwood Christian as the Lions are apparently already clicking according to Causey.

“They are extremely well-coached. They play extremely hard. They’ve been good as long as I’ve been following high school football,” Causey said. “They look like they are in midseason form right now.”