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2006 a year to remember

It seems just like yesterday a friend called me and said there was a job opening as The Greenville Advocate sports editor and that I should look into it.

As I pondered the decision, one of the first things I looked at was to see just how serious Butler County treats its athletics.

When I came and interviewed, Advocate Publisher Dennis Palmer drove me around town and showed me the athletic facilities.

Why I didn't leave right then, I'll never know.

But I'm so glad I didn't.

He told me that even though many of the facilities were old and dilapidated, those who run the programs at each and every one of those facilities, from high school sports down to the community level recreation programs, were dedicated individuals who love this county and sports.

He told me about the rich sports history this county has and how the people here love their sports, especially football.

He told me about how Fort Dale is one of the most prominent private schools in the state and how head football coach James &#8220Speed” Sampley and head basketball coach Reggie Mantooth have turned their respective programs into state powerhouses.

He told me about how Greenville High football has been a two-time state champion, but recently had fallen off the radar.

He told me about the new coach Bryant Vincent coming in from Spain Park and how everyone was extremely excited about the decision to hire him.

He told me how the Georgiana and McKenzie football programs had really struggled as of late, but with long-time assistant Donald Ray Mixon taking over for the Panthers and Miles Brown returning to his alma mater to take over the Tigers, the south part of the county was abuzz with excitement.

What he did not tell me and could not have foreseen is that this would turn out to be one of the best sports years in Butler County history.

I can only hope 2007 is just as good.

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