Football teams prep for spring

Published 5:34 pm Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spring is here and you know what that means.

Yep, football.

County high school football teams are gearing up for spring practice. Coaches get a first look at their teams before the summer break giving them an idea of what to expect come fall practice when school re-convenes in August.

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Greenville opens spring training on May 3, said GHS head coach Ben Blackmon, and will play Luverne in a jamboree game on May 14 at Tiger Stadium. The Tigers are coming off an 11-1 season, but must replace 19 seniors, including top wide receiver Mikwese Claybourne, running back Cordez Peagler, three-year starting quarterback Ryan Smith, and defensive lineman Kenneth Carter.

Meanwhile, at Fort Dale, head coach James “Speed” Sampley’s hands are tied – somewhat – by the success of the school’s baseball program. The Eagles start the playoffs this weekend and have a very good chance of making a deep run in the postseason.

“We’re going to have spring training whenever the baseball team gets finished,” said Sampley. “But spring training isn’t as big as it used to be, especially since you’re allowed to work during the summer and attend so many 7-on-7 camps. Plus, we’re very familiar with our kids so we don’t have any new talent we need to evaluate. We have an idea of what we’re going to have going into the fall.”

The Eagles return starting quarterback Hunter Armstrong, but lose top tailback Daniel Nolan, bruising middle linebacker Daniel Lowe, and do-everything athlete Todd Burkett to graduation. Also lost is top kicker Sean McKeague.

In McKenzie, the Tigers will kick off spring training the first of May and play in a three-team jamboree against J.U. Blacksher and Jay, Fla. in Uriah on May 21. The Tigers lost six seniors, but return all-purpose talent Emmanuel Johnson.

The Georgiana Panthers are in the process of searching for a coach. Three-year head coach Shane Smothers is leaving to take over the Lawrence County High School football program.