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2007 should be the year of the Tigers

While I picked Fort Dale and Georgiana to make it into the playoffs next season, each with a 7-3 record, forecasting the Greenville and McKenzie Tigers for the fall is not as simple.

Greenville is coming off its best season in 12 years and McKenzie not only won its first game in three years, but the Tigers from South Butler won three games and barely missed the playoffs.

Here are my picks for the 2007 season:

McKenzie

Miles Brown has righted the ship and the McKenzie Tigers are hungry for redemption.

The Tigers were competitive in almost every game they played in last season and escaped with several key region wins.

McKenzie had just one senior on last year's team, which means this year's team has plenty of game-time experience

Quarterback Sattrick Rudolph is back after starting last season and the senior-to-be has looked solid, both through the air and on the ground, during spring practice.

Elrick Ball has really stepped up as a leader for the Tigers and the bruiser will be accompanied by big man Jarrell Mobley and agile Curtis Ball in the Tiger backfield for a 1-2-3-4 rushing attack with Rudolph in the mix.

Calvin &#8220Scooter” Henderson has emerged as a scoring threat from anywhere for the Tigers while Emmanuel Johnson has been the most improved player on the McKenzie roster.

Oh, and if I haven't mentioned it already, the Tigers are a much bigger team than they were this time last year and, with three more months in the weight room before the season starts, look out Class 1A, Region 2.

The Tigers' schedule is always brutal, especially when you have to play against Brantley, and this season is no different.

If the Tigers can win the games they're supposed to and win a few close ones they aren't supposed to, the boys from South Butler could be a Cinderella team in the making.

2007 prediction: 6-4

Greenville

The Tigers are back.

Or are they?

When head coach Bryant Vincent arrived in Greenville, he stated he wanted to bring it back.

He wanted to bring back the winning, the intensity and, most importantly, the championships.

So far, he has brought two of the three back.

The Tigers enter the 2007 season off the heels of a 10-3 record and an appearance in the Class 5A quarterfinals.

For the Tigers to truly proclaim that Greenville football is back, the 2007 season needs to be the season of championships.

Butler County champions. Class 5A, Region 2 champions. Class 5A Alabama State Champions.

As we saw last year, the pieces are they for the Tigers to take it to Birmingham.

But, is the heart and desire there to make it happen?

Gone from last year's squad are playmakers Lynn Lewis, Kelcius Pate, Brandon Cheatham, William Thomas, Tom Powell IV, Pat Peagler and Zac Smith.

That's the bad news.

The great news is the Tigers return quarterback Casey Weston, Jamontay Pilson, Akeeva Owens, Traves Yelder and Charleston Lymon.

Alex Phifer, who missed most of last season with an injury, also returns with high expectations. Phifer should be heavily utilized in the Tiger offense.

College scouts are chomping at the bit over several of these senior-to-be players, and for good reason.

The Tigers play at Eufaula, at Charles Henderson and at Valley in the fall while also having to host Class 6A Wetumpka in the regular-season finale

Greenville took 2-of-4 of those games last season and, if the Tigers can take 3-of-4 of those games this season, there is no reason why the Tigers can't be Birmingham bound.

If the Tigers can't get that done, then 2007 could be a really long year.

2007 prediction: 7-3

Austin Phillips is The Greenville Advocate sports editor and can be reached by phone at 334-382-3111 ext. 122, by fax at 334-382-7104 or by e-mail at austin.phillips@greenvilleadvocate.com