Greenville Tigers 10-3 season top story of the year

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 4, 2007

While there were coaching changes, basketball, tennis and baseball championships in Butler County during 2006, it was the high school football season, surprisingly, that took the lead the as the top sports event of the year.

After consecutive 1-9 seasons, Greenville High School hired Spain Park assistant Bryant Vincent to take over as the head football coach and the Tigers haven't been the same since.

The Tigers struggled and looked like Greenville teams of old during both preseason jamboree games but were able to find their rhythm in the first game of the season, taking &#8220The Battle of Butler County” over the Georgiana Panthers, 35-0.

That was just the beginning for the Tigers.

Greenville reeled off four consecutive wins to start the season before falling by three points to the eventual Class 5A runner-up Eufaula Tigers, and then took the next five wins, including victories over Valley and Charles Henderson, before dropping the last game of the regular season to the Class 6A Wetumpka Indians.

As the Region 2 runner-up, the Tigers hosted the first round playoff game at Tiger Stadium and defeated the Demopolis Tigers to advance to the second round.

In the second round, the Tigers had to travel to Pleasant Grove but emerged victorious in overtime in one of the most thrilling games of the entire high school football season.

For the first time since the 1994 championship season, the Tigers hosted a third round playoff game but fell just short as the UMS-Wright Bulldog defense proved to be too much.

In recognition of the tremendous turnaround the Tigers were able to pull off, Vincent was named the Alabama Sports Writers Association Coach of the Year.

Although the Greenville Tigers' season was remarkable, so was the rest of football in Butler County.

The Fort Dale Academy Eagles, under the tutelage of head coach James &#8220Speed” Sampley, made the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season and also posted a 10-win record.

The Eagles suffered the first loss of the season in the third week to Faith and then ran the table throughout the regular season.

The Eagles downed six Top 10 teams during the year and avenged last season's two losses to Morgan by defeating the Senators in the eighth game of the season.

The eventual AISA Class AAA champion Bessemer Academy Rebels ended the Eagles' season in the semifinals.

In recognition of Fort Dale's amazing season, Sampley was named by the AISA as the Coach of the Year and the Eagles' 9-1 regular season record was the best during his eight-year tenure.

The southern part of the county also saw an about-face turnaround as the Georgiana Panthers closed out the regular season with three consecutive wins to earn a berth in the Class 2A playoffs and the McKenzie Tigers tripled their win total from the previous two seasons combined.

The Panthers, led by head coach Donald Ray Mixon, pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the high school football season in Week 4 with a win over the No.1 Southern Choctaw Indians and the McKenzie Tigers experienced a newfound work ethic as Miles Brown returned to his alma mater determined to right the ship.