On the march

Published 9:29 pm Thursday, November 3, 2011

Charles Henderson High School's Courtney Downing (5) runs the ball past a Valley High School defender during a football game in Troy, Ala., Friday, Sept. 16, 2011. (Messenger Staff Photo/Thomas Graning)

Through a season of ups and downs, the Charles Henderson Trojans accomplished one of their season goals … make the playoffs.

While 5-5 is hardly a dream season, the Trojans can rest their hat on the level of intensity they played with all season long.

“We could never seem to get over the hump of penalties or turnovers,” head coach Hugh Fountain said. “But we’ve played hard and gotten after it each week.”

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After a disappointing loss to Enterprise to finish the regular season, Charles Henderson will travel to take on a 6-4 Demopolis team in the first round of the playoffs.

The Tigers won the 2009 Class 5A state title. That trophy joined their 2004 Class 4A blue map on in the case.

Don’t let Demopolis’ four loss season fool you, however. The 2009 season, the Tigers finished 7-3 and rolled all the way to a title.

By the same token the Trojans 5-5 mark can be deceiving as well. In Charles Henderson’s five losses, the Trojans opponents outscored them by a minuscule 26 points, an average of 5.2 points per loss. Oh and by the way, aside from Enterprise, the combined record of those opponents … 36-4.

“As far as 5-5 goes, we’re a pretty confident team,” Fountain said of the team’s attitude after so many close losses. “Our kids don’t go into any game believing anybody is going to beat us.”

One key for Charles Henderson will be to eliminate the mistakes that have ended up getting them beat. Mistakes like not scoring from the one-foot line against Beauregard or the two dropped interceptions on what would be the game winning scoring drive for Valley or the fumble Eufaula returned for an 82-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

In the Trojans five losses, one can almost nail down one play that cost the Trojans a victory but the pressure to redeem those mistakes is something Fountain feels won’t hurt this team.

“There’s nothing wrong with pressure when it’s good pressure,” he said. “Good pressure is the pressure to perform up to your capabilities.”

So what is Fountain’s message to a young yet talented team?

“If you play well (in the playoffs), you keep playing. You can play a bad ball game just as long as you win the ball game because there is no tomorrow if you lose.”

The two team have never met on the football field and Fountain feels that adjusting to their strategy and game speed will be an obstacle.

“The challenge is knowing exactly what they’re going to do,” Fountain said.

“We know kind of what Valley is going to do or Eufaula is going to do because we play them all the time. A team like Demopolis, you know their tradition and you have an idea of what they are going to run but you only have six days to get adjusted to that.”

The Trojans will not be completely foreign to preparing for the option.

Eufaula’s option attack has destroyed defensive game plans all season but generated only 10 offensive points against the Trojans in week nine.

“Practices are much more intense (during a playoff week) because there is a lot of learning and a lot of instruction,” Fountain said.

No matter what the Trojans a game planing for, Fountain knows the tradition of Demopolis football and knows both teams will be ready to play.

“When you watch them on film, the one thing that impresses you is that they play hard every play and really fly to the ball,” Fountain said. “They run their offense to perfection to and that’s tough to defend.”

Charles Henderson will travel to Demopolis for the scheduled 7 p.m. kickoff tonight.

For scoring updates of this and all area games follow Wes Johnson on Twitter @messenger_wes.