McKenzie, Georgiana gear up for spring drills

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 22, 2005

Football season is here.

Two Butler County schools will be donning helmets and shorts starting Monday afternoon when spring drills begin at Georgiana and McKenzie.

Area schools within the Alabama High School Athletic Association are allowed 15 practice days, including a spring game. Greenville and Fort Dale Academy will begin drills May 2.

Georgiana coach Keith York and McKenzie coach David Kirkland said their squads will practice in shorts and helmets for three days and then put on the pads.

Kirkland, who is in his second year, is looking to rebuild a program that less than five years ago had one of the best teams in the state.

York, on the other hand, has a good nucleus to work around from a squad that earned a playoff berth last season.

Zane Stackhouse returns to the tailback spot after rushing for more than 2,300 yards and 23 touchdowns. The all-state running back was runner-up as Class 2A's back of the year.

But York said that not every position is set in stone.

"Every player will have to earn that starting spot if they want to play," York said.

Four key areas where York will need to find suitable replacements will be along the offensive line and in the backfield with Stackhouse.

Starting fullback Will Langham has transferred from Georgiana to Fort Dale Academy. Then there are three spots along the offensive line that have been left vacant by graduating seniors.

The Panthers have five starters total returning on offense and seven on defense.

"We are looking for people to step up and fill some shoes," York said.

Leading up to spring drills, players have been lifting weights during the offseason. And York said he can see the difference. He said this year's squad could have one of the biggest offensive lines Georgiana has seen in six years.

"Our kids have really worked hard in the weight room," he said.

Defensively, York will not have as many holes to fill. The Panthers' have returning starters Shane Boyd and Willie Peterson along the defensive line at two defensive tackle spots to anchor the unit.

As far as any new looks to this season's Georgiana squad, York said that he doesn't plan to add any new schemes.

However he did mention that for the Panthers to be effective offensively, they will have to open up their passing game.

"We need to work on our passing game, because (Stackhouse) is not a surprise to anyone," York said. "Everyone will stack up the line to try to stop him, so we'll need our wide receivers to step up."