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New faces, same result for SWHS

Sweet Water’s state championship win Thursday rounds out high school football for 2010. Just like five out of the last seven years, the Bulldogs proved to be the best team in Class 1A. But the way they claimed their spot at the top of the mountain this year is particularly special.

Sweet Water lost its highest profile athlete, Chris Landrum, in the first game of the season. An Auburn commit before the season started, it appeared Landrum may never play another high school game.

That left Sweet Water with a roster full of tough, hard-nosed, largely anonymous players. So the Bulldogs did what they always do. They worked. They worked hard.

Stacy Luker called the team a bunch of grinders in Thursday’s post game press conference. That may be the most apt description ever given for this group of athletes.

The 2010 Sweet Water Bulldogs had no Anthony Landrum or Johnny Lockett to break nearly all of the school rushing records while looking like a man amongst boys as he carried the team to a title. Instead, they had a small army of backs. There was Michael Thompson, a hard-running grinder if ever there were one. There was Deon Waters, a previously unproven player whose talent could scarcely be hidden as the season progressed. There was Terrence Sewell, who mixed hard running with big play ability.

This Bulldog team did not have the unquestioned leadership of Drew Luker calling the signals. They did not have the poise of Butch Williams calling the shots in the huddle. Instead, they had Brett Davis.

After a difficult freshman year, Davis defined the team with his toughness in his sophomore campaign. He is small, really small. But he never shied from contact or showed trepidation in running the ball when needed. In fact, his improvement as a quarterback probably has as much to do with the Bulldogs’ success in 2010 as anything else.

Then there was that defense. That defense that spent most of the year devoid of Landrums and Locketts. But regardless of what the weather does this holiday season, it will be a white Christmas in Sweet Water thanks largely to the emergence of Devann White.

The senior linebacker announced his presence last season and was supposed to have a big year playing on the outside as he nestled down in the box next to Chris Landrum. But the ankle injury Landrum suffered provided White an impetus to move inside and become the thumper on the defense.

White did more than become the thumper, he became the face of the Bulldog defense. He led the team in tackles. And when Landrum returned, White remained a tremendous leader for the unit. He led the way with 13 stops in the state title game.

But no matter what the names or faces, this state championship team is unmistakably a Sweet Water team. They were tough from the beginning, disciplined to the end and just never quit grinding.

So congratulations to the 2010 Sweet Water Bulldogs, the Class 1A state champions.

Jeremy D. Smith is the sports editor of The Demopolis Times.