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Student-athletes honored during annual Georgiana sports banquet

Georgiana senior Jacquez Payton delivered a few tearful words of thanks to Georgiana head football coach Ezell Powell during Tuesday night’s annual Georgiana sports banquet.

Georgiana senior Jacquez Payton delivered a few tearful words of heartfelt thanks to Georgiana head football coach Ezell Powell during Tuesday night’s annual Georgiana sports banquet.

The community of Georgiana celebrated a landmark season of athletics in style Tuesday evening during the school’s annual sports banquet.

There was much to celebrate, as four of Georgiana’s five varsity athletic programs made a playoff bid.

In addition, the Panthers’ varsity football team secured its first area championship in two decades and made it to the quarterfinal round of the AHSAA state playoffs.

Most notably, the Panthers’ varsity boys basketball team finished with a 30-2 record—the best record in the school’s history—and were named state runners-up earlier this year.

Georgiana head basketball coach and athletic director Kirk Norris said that, given this year’s athletic achievements, the accompanying banquet was appropriately special.

“Any time you have teams that advance far in the playoffs and have special seasons always makes it a little more special,” Norris said.

“Four of the five sports we have were in the playoffs.  And football and basketball both made runs at state championship.  When you can honor those kids for that they’ve accomplished definitely gives a little more significance to it.”

The players weren’t the only honorees Tuesday night, as a number of senior student-athletes returned the favor by paying respects to their favorite coaches in the form of their own plaques.

Norris, who was among the recipients of the seniors’ awards, said that it was a great honor.

“This was a really, really great group of seniors,” Norris said.

“They were special, and I think they were just appreciative of our coaches.  When you have kids that mature and let you know how they feel about you, it’s very special.  And I know all of our coaches that were honored by the seniors the other night felt similarly proud, and especially at the words that they said.

“It was a great honor for them to do that, and I think it says a lot about them.  They knew the sacrifice, time and other things that went into it, and each coach that helped them along the way, and they just wanted to show their appreciation for that.”

But Norris said that the unsung heroes of this year’s event—and every other banquet—was the Parents in Action (PIA) organization, Georgiana’s basketball booster club who aids in serving, decorating, cooking and several other tasks involved in making each annual banquet special for student-athletes and their families.

“Angie Binion is the president, and the rest of the club did a tremendous job—and they always do,” Norris said.

“They’re an excellent group of women that work very hard and care a lot about our kids and our school, and it was very evident the other night.  They were here until about 10 p.m. the night before decorating and stuff.  I can’t thank them enough because it wouldn’t have went off smoothly as it did without them.”