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Georgiana Panthers have a new head coach

Last week Georgiana High School's Panthers were leaderless for the 2001 football season. Not only do they now have a head coach, but also three assistant coaches.

In an interview last week, Roland Pettie, principal of Georgiana High School said the school had been &uot;put into a tailspin&uot; following late notice that three-year Head Coach Keith York had been offered, and had accepted a position as Assistant Principal at Hillcrest High School in Evergreen.

&uot;We did not receive final word until July 26 n that put us into a tailspin. It is hard to hire a football coach a month before the season opens,&uot; Pettie said.

Enter Rico White. Coming to the Panther lair from Class 4-A Central-Hayneville, Coach White held the position as assistant coach.

White is a graduate of Alabama State University, class of 1994, and brings with him three years of coaching experience. The head coach will be taking the leading role as offensive coordinator and coaching the backs and quarterbacks.

Also coming in with White is Danny Day.

&uot;Coach Day was defensive coordinator for Aliceville, and has over 30 years of coaching experience,&uot; White said.

Aliceville, a Class 3-A school, went undefeated last year, ending its season at 15-0.

&uot;We also have James Rutherford, who will be serving as offensive and defensive line coordinator,&uot; White said. &uot;James has been coaching for three years, and comes to Georgiana from Choctaw County High School n they ended last year with a record of 10-2.&uot;

White said he also is proud to have returning to the staff Mike Campbell, to coordinate receivers and defensive backs.

&uot;Mike is a true asset to the team,&uot; White said.

Describing the 2001 season as a &uot;growing period,&uot; Coach White is focusing on the team's first game of the season, which, as it turns out, is the biggest grudge match of the season.

&uot;We are playing at home against McKenzie on Aug. 31, and although not a regional game, it promises to be a good one,&uot; White said. &uot;I have heard more people talking about the Georgiana-McKenzie match up than any other game we have scheduled this year.

&uot;The Panthers graduated 11 starting seniors in key positions last year, so we are going to have to build back up,&uot; he said.

White is optimistic however, as is Principal Roland Pettie.

&uot;We are very satisfied so far,&uot; said Pettie on Wednesday morning. &uot;Of course, we got off to a slow start because we didn't find out until the last minute that we were looking for a coach, but the team looks good. They (team and coaches) are doing a great job.&uot;

Pettie said the numbers are going to increase for the Panthers now that school has opened.

&uot;Although we started with 24 players, we have several more that have come out to the practices, and as soon as they have their physical exams, they will be a part of the Panther team,&uot; Pettie said. &uot;We would like to invite the community to come to our practices, and make Coach White and his staff feel the warm welcome we are able to show them.&uot;

White said he is currently commuting back-and-forth, but is looking for a place to move into, and feels excited about the season.

&uot;I have been welcomed, and look forward to moving down here,&uot; White said.