Picking county#039;s best not an easy task

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 14, 2006

What an amazing football season 2006 turned out to be!

Over the course of the last four months, we have seen some of the best football Butler County has had to offer in quite a while.

Greenville turned completely around and made it to the third round of the AHSAA Class 5A playoffs for the first time since the 1994 championship season and Fort Dale Academy put together the best regular season in

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James &#8220Speed” Sampley's tenure.

In the south part of the county, Georgiana reeled off three straight wins at the end of the season to make the playoffs while McKenzie just missed out on making the Class 1A playoffs. The Tigers won three games this season after winning just one over the past two years.

Covering and chronicling this season was extremely exciting and I felt, after such a great year of football, those players who excelled above all the rest needed to be recognized for their efforts.

In an effort to recognize those players, we put together The Greenville Advocate All-County team, although narrowing down the team to just 24 players was no easy task.

We asked that each coach nominate two players at each position and then all nominations were taken into consideration and narrowed down to the team we have selected.

There were many players who deserved to be recognized but were not, just as there were many players who could have been selected for multiple positions but were limited to just one position.

We feel the selections were fair and represent a collective unit of the county's best football.

Since we took the time to recognize those individuals who stood out this season, I would now like to take the opportunity to acknowledge those moments that made this season so special.

Game of the Year

Sept. 15: Georgiana 20,

No. 1 Southern Choctaw 13

Down 13-7 against the No.1 team in Class 2A, Panther quarterback Andre Paige hit senior wide receiver Kyle Nelson for the sure touchdown, but Nelson dropped the ball. On the next play, Paige went right back to Nelson and this time the Georgiana receiver caught it to tie the game. Nelson kicked the extra point to put the Panthers up by one with just seconds remaining and then on the game's final play, Zebbie Mitchell intercepted an Indian pass and returned it 30 yards for the touchdown.

Play of the Year

&#8220Weston to Pilson”

Nov. 17: Greenville 21, Pleasant Grove 14 (OT)

After the Spartans scored with less than two minutes remaining in the game to tie the score 14-14, Greenville quarterback Casey Weston connected with

Tiger sophomore Jamontay Pilson for a touchdown on third down of the first possession of overtime. The Tigers held the Spartans on four straight plays to hold on for the win, thus sending Greenville to the Class 5A quarterfinals for the first time in 12 years.

Worst Prediction of the Year

Georgiana 24, Greenville 22

Who knew the Tigers were going to be so dominant?

In the preseason jamborees, the Tigers were never able to play four whole quarters and the Greenville defense had more holes than Swiss cheese.

The Greenville coaches went back to the drawing board after the jamboree loss to Luverne and it showed on the opening Thursday of the AHSAA football season.

The Tigers dominated from the first whistle to final whistle and took the win 35-0.

Although the win did not count in region play, the shutout victory definitely catapulted the Tigers to a phenomenal season.

Best Prediction of the Year

Wetumpka 27, Greenville 20

I learned my lesson early in the year to never count the Tigers out, but heading into the last week of the season with a Class 6A opponent, the Greenville Tigers looked doomed from the start.

Wetumpka dominated the Tigers to a 34-19 victory, which could have spelled more doom for Greenville in the playoffs.

Although the game was not a region game, the win would have been big for the Tigers heading into the playoffs.

Greenville didn't need the momentum, however, and defeated first-round playoff opponent

Demopolis anyway.

Worst way to say ‘goodbye'

In one of the first practices of the fall, Fort Dale Academy running back Peter McGowin injured his leg and missed his entire senior season.

Fort Dale head coach James &#8220Speed” Sampley said it was such a shame, not just because McGowin was a good player, but because he loved playing football.

If it had not been for the injury, McGowin would have likely ended up as one of the top rushers in AISA and as an All-County selection.

Austin Phillips is The Greenville Advocate sports editor. He can be reached at 382-3111 ext. 122, by fax at 382-7104 or by e-mail at austin.phillips@greenvilleadvcate.com