Coaches give fall preview to Kiwanis Club

Published 7:34 pm Tuesday, August 18, 2009

For one hour every year, Butler County residents have a chance to meet and ask questions to every head football coach in the county.

Yesterday, citizens packed the Beeland Park Community Center for the Kiwanis Club’s annual Coaches’ Corner to hear the latest news on their favorite team.

“We’re always excited to see what’s going to happen in the fall,” said program director Allen Stephenson.

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First up was Butler County Magnet School’s Shane Smothers, who missed last year’s event due to the birth of his son.

“We went 4-6 last year. This year, we’re going 15-0 and winning the state championship,” Smothers joked.

While that’s always a possibility, Smothers admitted that it probably won’t happen because of the youth of his team.

“We’ve got a lot of young kids who are working hard, and we’ve got eight seniors,” said Smothers, who brought along seniors Jim Grayson and Tay Hamilton. “It’s going to be a challenge right off.”

One quirk in the Panthers’ schedule is the game against Resurrection Catholic, a Pascagoula, Miss. team that is in their first year of football.

Even though the game is still to be confirmed, Smothers said he’s excited about the season.

Next, Fort Dale head coach Speed Sampley told everyone about the Eagles’ new spread offense.

“We’re going to be doing a lot of options because if we have to throw it every down, you’re gonna have to come visit me in a mental hospital,” he said.

To help answer any questions about the new offense, Sampley brought offensive coordinator Stephen Sorrells and players Daniel Lowe and Sean Harper.

Another big issue Sampley addressed was the Eagles’ number one ranking.

“Being number one doesn’t matter right now,” he said. “It matters in November.”

Miles Brown of McKenzie followed Sampley to the podium.

He started by updating everyone on the situation of Calvin Henderson, the starting quarterback who is recovering from a broken foot.

“The doctor said that he may be ready by week one,” Brown said. “I’m skeptical, but then again, I don’t have any medical degrees.”

Brown brought along seniors Melvin Owens and Freddie Banks.

“We had a good season last year, but that’s last season,” he said. “The kids have bought into the system we’ve got in place, and I feel like we’ve got a bullseye on us since we finished second in the region last year.”

The program wrapped up with Greenville’s Ben Blackmon, who brought Ryan Smith, Mikwese Claybourne and Cordez Peagler.

Blackmon talked about the new philosophy the Tigers have in place this year.

“’Four to six seconds of relentless effort and focus’ is our motto,” he said. “That’s how long the average football play is, and the mentality is to go hard every play.”

The Tigers have 21 seniors, but not quite as many juniors and sophomores, so depth is an issue.

The first game of the year against Charles Henderson is a big one for the Tigers, who have lost to the Trojans for two years in a row.

“We had a really good summer, and we’re looking forward to the first game against Charles Henderson,” Blackmon said.