Deshler's wrestling team will take the mat for its only home match of the season tonight, and at least for now it will mark the end of a unique atmosphere in the school's gym.
For nearly 30 years, a spotlight has shined down from the scoreboard hanging above the center of the gym, illuminating the wrestlers as they compete on the mat below. Tonight's match will be the last to use the spotlight, which along with the scoreboard will be removed due to the stress it puts on the gym's ceiling.
"We only turn it on for the wrestling matches and it creates a neat atmosphere in the gym," said Noel Smith, one of Deshler's coaches. "It kind of takes it up a notch. You don't see it at other facilities a whole lot anymore just because of the way facilities are now."
Jae Lockett, the team's other coach, said until a method of hanging, lowering and raising the spotlight can be devised, this will be its last appearance.
"I graduated from Deshler 30 years ago and they started doing it then," Lockett said. "It's something unique and the kids really like it."
The tri-match will include Class 6A James Clemens and 5A Athens, which both own narrow victories over the Tigers this season.
Juakeem Fuqua could contend for first place in the 145-pound class for Deshler. The senior has won two tournaments and placed fourth at the Tigers' other two so far this season. His only losses have come against 6A competition.
In the 152-pound division, Tyler Vinson, also a senior, has yet to lost a match to 4A competition this season.
The last several seasons have included one home match each for Deshler. A lack of local schools that field a wrestling team — Deshler and Muscle Shoals are the only two — combined with the reluctance of Huntsville and Birmingham area schools to travel has caused a problem for scheduling, Smith said.
"The last four or five years, it's been tough to get folks to come over," Smith said. "They can stay in Huntsville and get a match, and a lot of schools don't do wrestling during the week, only on the weekends."
It also means often competing against larger schools. Still, Deshler has had success in recent years, qualifying six for state last year in Class 1A-4A and nine in 2011.
Tonight's match is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.