Georgiana Panthers hit field to begin spring football practice

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 26, 2007

The helmets have been put on and the footballs have begun flying through the air as the Georgiana Panthers became the first county team to hit the field Tuesday to begin the first day of spring practice.

Although the team has a similar look to last season's team, much has changed.

Last week, Georgiana athletic director and head football and baseball coach Donald Ray Mixon was relieved of his athletic duties as the Butler County Board of Education voted unanimously to terminate Mixon's contract as AD and coach.

So, for the second straight season, the Panthers will go through spring practice with an interim head coach.

Last season, Mixon filled in for Greg Ennis, who resigned before spring practice began.

This season, Georgiana High principal Joseph Dean will fill during spring, and Dean is no stranger to the game of football.

Dean played football in high school at Monroe County before going on to Alabama State where he was a part of the 1991 SWAC and Black College National Championship team.

Dean has also coached eight years of high school football, with stops at Monroe County Junior High, J.F. Shields High, Lee-Evans and Hillcrest-Evergreen.

Although Dean knows it will take some time to restore the winning ways of Georgiana football, he wants to restore something else immediately.

&#8220A little normalcy,” Dean said with a smile. &#8220I want to show these kids, despite the obstacles that have been put in front of them, you have to keep going.”

Tuesday's practice began with that normalcy as the Panthers went through a high-spirited workout in helmets and shorts.

One of the bright spots Dean sees for the up-coming season is the team's leadership.

With players like quarterback Andre Paige and Terrence Matthews returning, Dean is hoping the younger guys feed off the energy and leadership of the older guys.

&#8220Andre's matured a lot,” Dean said. &#8220He's taken over the leadership role, making sure guys are at workouts when they're supposed to be, and he's going to play a very important role.”

The Panthers' spring practice will come to a head May 10 as Georgiana travels to Hillcrest-Evergreen for three-team jamboree.

The Panthers will face Hillcrest-Evergreen and St. Jude starting at 6 p.m.