Daily illustration by Laura Taylor|
Defending the home turf
Decatur eager to win in front of old graduates
By Brooke Milam
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The Decatur Red Raiders know there will be a lot of extra eyes watching Friday when they host West Point to cap the homecoming week festivities at Ogle Stadium at 7 p.m.
With alumni in the audience, including former players, the Red Raiders said there is even more incentive for a win this week.
"Tradition," senior defensive back Aaron Boykin said.
"You want to win. People come expecting us to win."
Players will watch the homecoming parade leave from the front of the school before beginning pre-game activities just like any other week, but even Decatur coach Jere Adcock said that homecoming week provides something special in the air.
"I want people that come back to be proud of the guys on that field and say, 'Those are the kind of guys I want representing me,' " Adcock said.
Ranked ninth in Class 5A, the Red Raiders (4-1) enter the Region 8 contest with a four-game winning streak. Only Decatur and Russellville are unbeaten in Region 8 play.
West Point (1-4) is still looking for its first region win after winning its opening contest 20-14 over non-region opponent Good Hope.
Senior defensive lineman Adam Gillespie said Decatur's team chemistry this season has made the difference a year after the Red Raiders went 4-6 and missed the playoffs.
"We're definitely playing better as a team and we're making things work out on the field," Gillespie said.
Adcock said team mentality is a given around Decatur, as are a few other characteristics.
"We typically have undersized kids playing with heart and commitment to our program because of love for the game and representing their families and this high school," Adcock said.
"That's what people expect, and it's what everybody who played before them was, and we wouldn't have it any other way."
Junior running back Chris Coffey (5-foot-8, 180 pounds) is averaging more than 100 yards a game with 583 rushing yards through five contests. Coffey has scored a team-high five rushing touchdowns and also caught a touchdown pass.
Sophomore quarterback Ben Neill (5-9, 160) has connected with 12 different receivers, led by 6-2, 185-pound senior Justin Bishop's 13 receptions for 171 yards.
Junior Cory Dodson (5-10, 135) has caught three touchdown passes among his 10 receptions for 122 yards, and junior tight end Brooks Johnson (6-4, 225) has caught two touchdown passes.
Neill has completed 44 of 70 passes for a 61 percent completion rate and six touchdowns.
When Adcock talks about his defense, he talks about a pair of goal line stands inside the 2-yard line the Red Raiders have accomplished this year — one against Hartselle and another last week against Sparkman.
Decatur won both contests, and its defense passed the test in the high intensity goal line situations, yielding no points in one instance and a field goal in the other.
"It seems like there is somebody that's hot every week," Adcock said. "Our tackles haven't been dominated by one guy. There's been a lot of guys in on a lot of tackles and that's been a plus."
Senior linebacker Tim Witherspoon has led Decatur in tackles for most of the season.
Ogle Stadium game
Who: West Point (1-4) at Decatur (4-1).
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Stakes: Itís homecoming week for the Red Raiders and no time to let up as they try to build on a four-game winning streak. Decatur needs a convincing Class 5A, Region 8 win against West Point to set the tone for next weekís trip to Russellville, the only other team besides Decatur thatís unbeaten in region play.
Fridayís other games
Class 6A: Austin (2-3) at Bob Jones (1-4).
Class 5A: Russellville (5-0) at Athens (3-2), Brewer (3-2) at Hartselle (1-4), West Point (1-4) at Decatur (1-4).
Class 4A: Ardmore (1-4) at Madison County (5-0), Columbia (3-2) at East Lawrence (1-4), East Limestone (5-0) at North Jackson (5-0), Lawrence County (2-3) at Wilson (3-2), DAR (1-4) at Priceville (2-3).
Class 3A: Colbert County (4-1) at Clements (2-3), Madison Academy (3-2) at Danville (0-5), Elkmont (3-2) at Lauderdale County (1-4), Sheffield (3-2) at West Limestone (2-3).
Class 2A: Addison (4-1) at Tanner (3-2), J.B. Pennington (3-2) at Falkville (3-2), Hatton (0-5) at West Morgan (2-3).
Class 1A: Hazlewood (5-0) at Phillips-Bear Creek (4-1), Mount Hope (0-5) at Waterloo (4-1), R.A. Hubbard (2-3) at Shoals Christian (2-3), Vina (2-3) at Speake (4-1).
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