Brothers face off against each other in opener
Fri. August 31, 2012 at 12:00 a.m. | By Andrew Carroll
American Christian Academy coach John Causey. (Photo by Photo | Kelly Lambert)
TUSCALOOSA | Linda Causey will travel from her home in Hayneville to watch a football game tonight, but she might experience divided loyalties.
One son, John Causey, will be coaching the American Christian Academy Patriots. Another son, Tom, will lead the Demopolis Tigers.
Tom said the oldest brother, Jim, will make the trip from Montgomery if he can get off work.
John said he wants his mother and aunt, Jackie Brown, to sit on the ACA side.
"I told her she’d better sit on this side," said John, who went from Lowndes Academy to become a starting center at the University of Alabama. Tom played college football at the University of West Alabama in Livingston. He started off as a tight end before switching to the defensive line.
John said his mother planned to wear a "house divided" outfit. Both teams feature royal blue in their color schemes, but ACA also has red.
Tonight’s game kicks off the season for both teams, but it won’t affect playoff possibilities. ACA is making the jump from Class 2A to Class 3A. Demopolis will compete this season in Class 5A.
In his first season as ACA’s head coach, John guided the Patriots to a 12-2 record and the semifinal round of the playoffs. Demopolis went 6-5 last season and qualified for the first round of the playoffs. Tom’s 2009 Tigers won the Class 5A championship in the University of Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The brothers agreed in January to open the season against one another. John, who will be 39 on Sunday, said he usually talks with his brother to "pick his brain" for advice during a game week, but the conversations this time centered on logistics, such as how to reach the ACA campus and where to park the buses.
"He’s not going to tell me what he’s going to do," said Tom, 42. "I’ll be as nervous as a house cat from the time this thing starts until it’s over. (Linda) is a great competitor too. She doesn’t know which one to pull for."
Both coaches said the family ties will be set aside after the first snap.
"I have the utmost respect for him as a person and as a coach," John said. "I know what kind of competitor he is. I know what kind of character and qualities he instills in the teams he’s coached. Beyond that, I know that there’s no quit in him or his team.
"It’s going to be special for me, and I feel like it’ll be special for him, but it’s not about him or me. We want to enjoy that aspect of it, but it’s about our players who prepared themselves to the best of their ability. It’s always going to be about the football player making plays that win ballgames. Schemes don’t win ballgames. Coaches don’t win ballgames. It’s going to come down to who makes plays and who doesn’t make plays, no matter if it’s my brother or another coach that has no ties to me."
"It’s definitely going to be a little different with him on the other side," Tom said. "We’ve always pulled for each other. It’s going to be different trying to whip him. I think it’s going to hit me more prior to the game. Once the ball gets kicked off, you’re not thinking about anything other than the game. You’re trying to do everything you can to give your team a chance to succeed."
Tom has had to prepare his defense to face ACA’s multi-faceted spread offense, but the Patriots will have a new starting quarterback in Austin Mohlenbrok.
"It’s dangerous for us because they have a high-quality football team," Tom said. "They’re used to winning and going deep in the playoffs every year. John knows what he’s doing. He’s been around nothing but winning ever since he’s been in this game.
"You don’t get to the semifinals without high-quality kids and a bunch of good players. They may have had some personnel changes from last year, but I can guarantee you two things about his team. They’re going to be physical and they’re going to be disciplined. I saw last year that they were going to be physical because he was a physical player."
John said Demopolis utilizes a run-oriented offense that his team probably won’t see the rest of the season. Tom said that’s not necessarily an advantage because the Patriots have had a chance to prepare for it ever since the game was scheduled.
"I want to find out where we’re at as a football team," John said. "What we want to do is find an identity for this football team. Everybody says the most improvement you have is from game one to game two. When you play a quality opponent like Demopolis, you know you’re going to get a 13-round fight. You know you’re going to get class, and they have pretty good schemes and pretty good coaching on top of that. You’re getting, in my opinion, the best of the best."
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