Devilish nature

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Maplesville’s keys to success: Teamwork and a lot of light moments

By George L. Jones

The Selma Times-Journal

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MAPLESVILLE – Spend five minutes around the Maplesville football team, and two things become evident.

For one, they take few things seriously – until game time, that is.

And second, they do almost nothing individually.

They don’t even answer questions during interviews by themselves.

“We can’t do it,” said quarterback John Andrews. “That’s what teamwork is all about, baby. You want to talk to one of us, you can talk to all of us.”

It must have been teamwork that two years ago turned the hapless Red Devils from a one-win squad into a playoff contender.

It must have been the same teamwork that last year brought them to an eight-win regular season and a head-butting contest with defending state champion Sweet Water in the first round of the playoffs.

And this year?

Well, no one is really saying, except that people might still tend to look over the big-hearted team from a tiny logging town.

“Last year, I think we were underestimated,” fullback Brad Pike said. “I don’t know about this year … We bring a lot of balance on offense. If we need to run the ball, we can. If we need to throw the ball, we can.”

A glance at this roster also wields a third conclusion – they need to spend more time at the dinner table. But what they lack in size, they make up for in speed and heart.

Maplesville’s players – even the offensive ones – herald the defense as the legs of the team.

Even after losing all-state defensive lineman Damon Lee, the Devils still believe in their ability to make stops.

“Defense is the key; defense is what’s going to win championships,” defensive end Regis Laister said.

Not surprisingly, his teammate interjected with a common thought.

“Like Regis said, defense wins championships,” said linebacker Josh Smith. “As long as the offense is putting up points, we’ve got to stop the offense from scoring.”

If defense wins championships, then offense – as receiver/defensive back Nick Andrews so eloquently put it – “sells tickets.”

But that remains to be seen.

The team has dealt with injuries to key players this summer, including John Andrews, and lost three of its starting linemen from 2005.

“We lost a center and two tackles,” assistant Eric Bailey said. “But some guys did a good job in the spring stepping up. We’re young, and I just hope we can improve off last year.”