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Decatur wide receiver Cory Dodson catches a touchdown pass during a recent scrimmage.
Daily photos by Gary Cosby Jr.
Decatur wide receiver Cory Dodson catches a touchdown pass during a recent scrimmage.

HIGH SCHOOL COUNTDOWN
Keeping the
same goals

Despite missing playoffs in 2006, Decatur’s expectations haven’t changed any

Twentieth in a series

By Brooke Milam
bmilam@decaturdaily.com · 340-2460

Unlike the situation with many teams, the main topic of conversation in Decatur High’s Earl Webb Fieldhouse isn’t about making the playoffs.

Red Raiders coach Jere Adcock said that’s because the postseason is expected — not just this season, but every year.

And after slipping from the playoff picture in 2006, that standard still hasn’t changed.

Decatur has made the state playoffs in nine of Jere Adcock’s 11 previous seasons as the Red Raiders’ head coach.
Decatur has made the state playoffs in nine of Jere Adcock’s 11 previous seasons as the Red Raiders’ head coach.
“Making the playoffs is a given around here,” Adcock said. “It’s not even talked about that much because you are expected to be there.”

In 11 previous seasons as Decatur’s head coach, Adcock’s squads have made the playoffs nine times.

And that kind of tradition isn’t something he has to explain to his players.

It began in Class 6A when the Red Raiders played in the state’s largest division, and was expected to continue when Decatur moved down to 5A last season.

“That makes us want to work harder — we want to prove that last year was a fluke,” senior center Jake Gray said.

But last season, the Red Raiders slowly fell from playoff contention for the first time in a decade, finishing 4-6.

“We made mistakes in key situations, but our coaching staff has done a super job of doing things to get that corrected,” Adcock said. “I’ve been real pleased with the progress we’ve made through the spring and summer.”

Last year 5A, Region 8 sent Russellville, J.O. Johnson, Athens and Hartselle to the playoffs, and all four look like legitimate contenders again, which makes the path difficult for Decatur.

Russellville has been a power for decades. J.O. Johnson was ranked No. 2 in the Alabama Sports Writers Association pre-season rankings. Athens is the defending 5A state champion, and Hartselle should be strong again coming off a trip to the quarterfinals a season ago.

“Hartselle and Athens games — we grew up watching Decatur play those games,” Gray said.

“Those have always been the biggest games — now it just makes it a little bigger.”

Making the playoffs may be difficult this year, but Adcock “likes the potential for it to come together” this season.

So, where do the Red Raiders start?

Senior quarterback Riley Adcock and sophomore Ben Neill both return after playing for the varsity last season.

Also returning in the backfield are junior tailback Chris Coffey and junior fullback David Martin.

“Chris Coffey is a heck of a back — he makes us look good,” Gray said.

Coffey was Decatur’s top rusher a year ago.

The Red Raiders also return top receiver Justin Bishop, a 6-foot-2, 185 pounds. Junior Cory Dodson (5-10, 135) will play a key role in Decatur’s receiving corps, as will junior tight end Brooks Johnson (6-3, 215).

Anchoring the offensive line is Gray (6-0, 200), a three-year starter at center.

Right tackle Thomas Fite (6-2, 245), is also a senior who has started games in each of the last three seasons.

Defensively, Adcock named junior defensive ends Dewan Troupe (6-1, 235) and Pierre Key (6-2, 240) as essential role players, as well as senior linebacker Tim Witherspoon and junior linebacker Levi Cook.

Decatur returns senior starting defensive tackle Daniel Crampsey (6-1, 235), while senior Tyler Teague (6-0, 185) and junior John Alexander (6-1, 245) also give the Red Raiders experience on the defensive line.

Senior kicker Michael Shuster will continue to offer Red Raiders an advantage in the kicking game.

Shuster was a Daily all-area selection as a junior, and Adcock said Shuster has routinely placed in the top five in national kicking competitions all summer.

Adcock said, “It’s going to be a process, but they’re working at it.”

He also described the unit as having “a lot of heart.”

Echoing the words of their coach, the players said their unity holds promise for a better season.

“We know we don’t have all Division I players or anything, so we have to put a lot in it to get something out of it,” Fite said.

And the potential is there.

In fact, Adcock said this team reminds him of Decatur’s squads from 2004 and ’05. Adcock said those teams stood out for their unity and “finding a way to squeak out wins.”

Those teams finished 9-3 and 10-2, both advancing to the second round of the state playoffs in 6A.

With comparison to that group on record, Decatur isn’t ready to forget last season — they’re ready to learn from it.

“I think there were a lot of lessons learned from last year,” Fite said. “Learning a lesson can turn into motivation for the future. That’s how we’re looking at it now — as motivation.

Decatur High at a glance

  • Last year: 4-6. Did not make the state playoffs.

  • Coach: Jere Adcock (83-43 in his 12th season at Decatur).

  • Noteworthy: Decatur will face rivals Hartselle and Athens at home this season after dropping both contests on the road last year. ... Decatur plays in 5A, Region 8, which sent Athens to last year’s state championship game, J.O. Johnson to the semifinals and Hartselle and Russellville to the quarterfinals. ... Decatur will focus on finishing games at the end, or as assistant coach Steve Armstrong puts it, “throwing the knock-out punch.” The Red Raiders’ six losses last season came by an average of just 10.5 points.

    Brooke Milam

    Decatur High schedule, results

    2007 schedule


    8-31

    Huntsville

    9-7

    Hartselle (R)

    9-13

    at J.O. Johnson (R)

    9-21

    Athens (R)

    9-28

    at Sparkman

    10-5

    West Point (R)

    10-12

    at Russellville (R)

    10-19

    Muscle Shoals (R)

    10-26

    at Brewer (R)

    11-2

    Austin

    (R)-Class 5A, Region 8


    2006 results


    at Huntsville

    W, 28-27

    at Hartselle

    L, 17-7

    vs. J.O. Johnson

    L, 13-8

    at Athens

    L, 37-17

    vs. Sparkman

    L, 22-7

    at West Point

    W, 48-7

    vs. Russellville

    L, 38-28

    at Muscle Shoals

    W, 30-14

    vs. Brewer

    W, 56-33

    at Austin

    L, 17-14

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