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Sheffield wins Bryant-Jordan award

One of Georgiana School’s standout student athletes just added another accolade to a his growing list of accomplishments.

Senior Matt Sheffield was named the Class 1A Region 2 winner of the Bryant-Jordan Student Athlete Program.

Despite the aforementioned accolades, the news came as something of a surprise to him.

“I was very surprised, because I know of one other person from our school that’s ever gotten it, and you don’t hear that a lot from a small town in Butler County,” Sheffield said.

“So it was really big for me and my school. It’s kind of overwhelming at the moment because I’m at the top with some of the greatest athletes and scholars that there is and it feels really great.”

Despite the academic and athletic accomplishments throughout his senior year, Sheffield said that he is most proud of the renaissance era of sports that Georgiana is currently enjoying, with the football program’s season being a high-water mark and the basketball teams’ postseason run.

As a linebacker for the Georgiana Panthers football team, Sheffield was able to experience the value of hard work and dedication firsthand.  He also saw it cultivating in the younger players around him.

After a 4-6 start in 2014, Sheffield said that the team made a collective goal immediately after the season ended to make the playoffs.

At some point in the season, he and his teammates realized they could do more.

“As the season went along, we realized ‘we’re actually pretty good; we may be able to go to the second or third round this year,’” Sheffield added. “Despite the fact of us overlooking our [first-round] opponent, we would’ve gone that far.  I believe with a great amount of my being that we would’ve made it farther.”

Sheffield thanked Georgiana head football coach Ezell Powell for the turnaround.

Not only was he able to come in and make huge adjustments to the team’s offensive and defensive formations, Sheffield said; he was able to transform a team into a family.

“It was so easy to understand the play calls,” Sheffield added.

“We worked well with him and he worked well with us.  It was just like a family.  It wasn’t even like football half the time.  It was playing together and it was a family thing… another week, another opponent.”

If Sheffield’s heart belongs to football, then baseball has claim over his soul.

“Baseball has always been a thing for me mainly because you don’t see a lot of football teams that play in the summer,” Sheffield said.

“But with baseball, I’m able to play it year-round, and I’m able to get a huge amount more of practice in.”

Sheffield’s pitching prowess earned him an all-state honorable mention last year, but another goal he’s added to his list is to make all-state team alongside his teammates.

If early practices and the team’s first game is any indication, that’s a real possibility.

“We definitely see the difference this year from last year, just in only playing one game so far.  We could tell the difference on the first practice.  It’s just phenomenal how much improvement we’ve made in the offseason,” Sheffield said.

“We’ve got more players this year, we’ve got people coming from different places, we’re playing more high-class teams, and I think it’s going to be really exciting to see how we match up with those teams.”

Sheffield plans to pursue baseball in college while majoring in education, but he hasn’t decided where he’ll attend.

Two candidates spring immediately to mind, however.

“The main two right now are going to be AUM and Huntingdon,” Sheffield said.

“I’m saying that because they’re close to home.  I’ve visited them, and I love their colleges.  I’ve talked to the coaches, and it’s like they’re closer to me than any other coaches—they text me, they email me, they want me to come visit some more, they come and watch me, etc.  I know a few players on both teams, and it just feels like home already.

“And it’s close, so my parents can come watch me when they want to.  It just couldn’t be in a more perfect spot.”