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Hillcrest presents final tune-up

Demopolis will close out its regular season at home Thursday night against a daunting foe that has grown into a considerable rival in recent years.

“I think it’s the close proximity,” Demopolis head coach Tom Causey said of the root of the developing rivalry with Class 6A Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa. “A lot of the Hillcrest people know the Demopolis people. We play them in baseball. We play them in softball. Our basketball plays in their Christmas tournament a lot. There’s a lot of connections between the two communities.”

Beyond all the good feelings between the programs and fans rests the fact the Hillcrest may be at its best at any point over the course of the rivalry. The Patriots enter at 8-1, suffering the lone loss by three points to Gardendale.

“They’ve got a dang good football team,” Causey said. “I don’t see a whole lot of weaknesses in them. They are well-coached. They don’t make mistakes and they are not going to beat themselves.”

Hillcrest promises to provide Demopolis one of its toughest tests of the 2010 season Thursday. The Patriots are adept at running and passing, have no shortage of ability on the offensive front and will apply plenty of defensive pressure.

Countering that pressure will be an offensive line that played one of its better games to date last week against Selma.

“Friday night I was on them really hard. Saturday, after watching the film, I apologized to them,” Causey said of his offensive linemen. “But thy’ve got to continue to get better. They will see as good of a defensive line as there is in high school football Thursday night.”

The Tigers will also be tasked with bottling up the Pats’ potent offensive attack. To do that, Demopolis will need to build on the strong defensive effort it turned in last week against Selma.

“They did a really good job against the run,” Causey said of his defensive players. “We had some issues with the ball in the air, but we’ll get better at it.”

Regardless of the outcome, Causey believes his team will find out exactly what it needs to know Thursday night.

“They are 6A, Region 5 champions,” he said of the Patriots. “We’ll find out where we’re at and we’ll find out a lot about what we’ve got to do between now and next Friday.” Demopolis will play Fairfield in the first round of the state playoffs next week.