Holland carries, Demsky punts give Pelham leg up in AHSAA Region 5 race

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A tradition of strong kickers is continuing at Pelham High School.

Last Friday night, the leg of sophomore punter Austin Demsky was one of the biggest reasons why the Pelham Panthers escaped Alabaster with a 21-17 win over the Thompson Warriors and a chance to play for the region title.

Demsky follows in the tradition of Alabama punter Lane Bearden and field goal kicker Michael Proctor, both Pelham Panther kickers.

Playing before a full house at James L. Simmons field,

Pelham first scored on a 2-yard Wes Holland run and Jackson point after. Thompson countered with an 11-yard Adrian Marcus run and McKinney kick.

The only Warrior lead would came on a 2-yard Cooper run and McKinney kick to make it a 14-7 contest at the half.

Then, in the third quarter, Pelham was backed up to its own 12-yard line, facing a fourth down with 22 yards to go for a first down.

Demsky came on to hit a 68-yard punt that completely flipped the field and gave Thompson the ball not in the good field position it expected, but all the way back at the Warriors&8217; own 20-yard line.

A short time later, in a similar situation from the Panthers own 18-yard yard line, Demsky hit a 58-yard punt.

The significance of those punts was not lost on Pelham head football coach Brett Burnett.

&8220;Austin hit two big punts that turned the field. That was big for us early in the second half. That really got us in position to win the ball game.&8221;

Demsky&8217;s 68-yarder was only four yards short of two 72-yard kicks included in the Alabama High School Athletic Association&8217;s records.

Not long after Demsky&8217;s second boomer, Pelham&8217;s Alvin Hines pounced on a Sideeq Cooper fumble. Pelham&8217;s Josh Thomason then called his own number for 20-yard touchdown run to help tie the game with Daniel Jackson&8217;s point after.

Pelham later took a 21-14 lead on a 9-yard Thomason run and Jackson PAT with 33 seconds left in the third quarter.

While Thompson answered with a 34-yard Adam McKinney field goal, Pelham

held for the win.

Thomason completed 18 of 27 passes for 192 yards and rushed 15 times for 46 yards and two touchdowns.

Holland rushed 18 times for 108 yards and one touchdown and had nine catches for 123 yards, which meant he accounted for 231 yards of Pelham&8217;s 350 yards total offense.

The Warriors rushed for 244 yards and passed for 101 yards for 345 yards total offense against the Panthers.

Burnett said Thompson was a &8220;heck of a football team,&8221; calling the win by his team &8220;huge.&8221; He said he challenged his players to play better at the half.

Burnett also said Tuscaloosa County, which comes to call this Friday, will be another tough ball game. But more than that, at 7-1 overall and 6-0 in region play, the contest this Friday will be for a region crown.

Thompson coach Brian Maner said Pelham was able to capitalize on mistakes, but both sides played hard. He said, &8220;We&8217;ve just got to go back and correct mistakes, keep our heads up and try to get better.&8221;

The Warriors will go on the road this Friday night to take on Paul Bryant.