• 79°

2001 Sports Year in Review:

Trojans win over SEC ‘Dogs highlights great year for sports

Basketball

Basketball season in Pike County was one of the most successful in recent memory as the Goshen Eagles capped off a 23-3 year with a trip to the Class 2A Final Four in Birmingham in February. The Eagles were champions of Area 2, as well as sub-regional and Southwest regional champs in 2001. GHS was halted in its quest for a first-ever state title by Mars Hill Bible, 76-72. Eagles’ senior center Jamar Tucker was named second team Class 2A All-State. Both he and junior shooting guard Averick Rogers eclipsed the 1,000-point career mark during the 2000-01 season. Rogers was named to the South All-Star team during the summer and played in the North-South All-Star Basketball game held at AUM.

Pike Liberal Arts School guard B.J. Powell finished out a stellar career for the Patriots by also scoring the 1,000 point of his career in the final game of the regular season. Also honored that night was former Lady Patriots’ player and PLAS cheerleader Lauren Austin, who was tragically killed in a car accident earlier that month.

Both the Charles Henderson boys and girls basketball teams swept their area tournaments with road wins over powerful Eufaula. The boys team fell in the sub-regional round to Booker T. Washington, ending the season at 14-10, but the Lady Trojans advanced to Troy State, claiming their first region win under head coach Dyneshia Jones over Benjamin Russell, 61-52 in overtime. However, Booker T. Washington ended CHHS’s year, 43-30, denying the Lady Trojans a chance at the state title in Birmingham.

The Troy State men’s team finished the season with a Division I-A school-record 19 wins versus 12 losses. For the first time ever, the Trojans also came one game shy of advancing to the NCAA Tournament in March, falling to a strong Georgia State squad in the TAAC championship game, 79-55. It was during a regular season match-up against GSU in Troy, a 74-67 TSU win, that head coach Don Maestri passed John Archer as all-time winningest basketball coach at Troy State.

Former basketball stars also had their share of success in 2001.

Donte Frazier and Drew Felix, both former players under Carl Hollis at CHHS, helped lead their respective small college teams to national championships. Frazier was a key player on a Faulkner squad that finished 34-5 overall and won the NAIA national title. Felix combined with former PLAS player Josh Behm to help the Huntingdon Hawks to a NSCAA national championship. The Lady Hawks of Huntingdon also made a national title run, led by Goshen alumni Arlesha Lane and former PLAS Lady Patriots’ player Amy Rachel, but fell in the championship game to the Apprentice School of Virginia, 74-51.

In the Troy recreation department, the TPRD 12 and under tournament team advanced to state competition for the second straight season.

Baseball and Softball

Players on the Charles Henderson varsity baseball team were able to recover from the death of longtime assistant Terry Sikes in April of 2001 to win an area championship.

CHHS came from behind for a victory over area-foe Carroll in Ozark, 4-3, just a few nights after Sikes’ death. The Trojans went on to beat Greenville 10-0 in the first game of the Class 5A state playoffs in Troy, but fell on the road at Chilton County, 4-3, ending the year with a record of 19-9.

Coach Steve Haug’s CHHS softball team had a two-year run of sectional titles snapped by Eufaula at the Troy Sportsplex in the spring. After suffering their first loss of the season to CHHS, the Lady Tigers recorded two straight shutouts, 1-0 and 6-0, to win the tournament. CHHS was forced to travel to Robertsdale where they were eliminated, ending the year with a 19-19 record. Shortstop Kelly Miller, who also was a starting shooting guard for Jones’ basketball team, participated in the fastpitch North-South All-Star Softball game in Montgomery during the summer.

In the summer recreation leagues, the Troy Parks and Rec Department had four teams to finish the year with unbeaten records. The Dixie Angels Lugnuts finished the year with a 15-0 record, as did the Chicks of the Ponytail league. The Dixie Belles Lookouts concluded their season with a 12-0 record. The Farm League Indians finished a perfect 15-0 also. Brundidge’s Dixie Minor Dodgers squad also remained perfect at the close of the regular season with a 9-0 record.

For the second straight year, Troy’s Dixie Minor National team advanced to the state tournament, this time held in Fairhope. Troy was led by the one-two pitching combination of William Teal and Jake Smith.

Troy Post 70’s Junior Legion team, made up of baseball players from PLAS, CHHS and Goshen, came within one game of winning the state title in Montgomery this summer. Post 70 beat Montgomery Post 210, 8-6, West Alabama, 6-5, and Northview, 4-3, but were upset by Montgomery 4-3 in the final game of the tournament. Troy concluded its season with an amazing 28-10 record and was also the first team ever to advance to an American Legion state tournament.

Also, two Troy State baseball players were taken in the Major League Draft. Pitcher Jason Bernard was selected by Philadelphia Phillies and shortstop Casey Smith was taken by the Anaheim Angels.

Football

Football was king in the fall and Troy State finally joined the national spotlight when the Trojans ran onto the field at Lincoln, Neb., to face traditional Division I-A powerhouse Nebraska.

TSU finished their 2001 transition season with a respective 7-4 record, which included a 21-9 October shocker over Mississippi State on the Bulldogs’ homecoming. Troy State head coach Larry Blakeney was honored by Gov. Don Siegleman, as well as the House and Senate, at the state capitol with a proclamation declaring Dec. 20 as "Larry Blakeney Day." Blakeney was also a featured guest on ESPN Radio as well as various other national sports talk shows. The Troy State coaching staff became a hot commodity once the BCS determined that Nebraska would face No. 1 Miami in the Rose Bowl for the national championship. The Trojans were the only team in America to play both schools during the regular season.

In high school action, Mack Williams was named head coach of the Pike Liberal Arts School football team, taking over for 23-year Patriots’ coach DeWight Ward. All three of Pike County’s AHSAA member-schools made it to the state playoffs for the second year in a row.

Charles Henderson fielded one of the best defenses in the state and finished the year with a 9-3 record, losing to Robertsdale High School, 14-0, in the second round of the state playoffs. The week prior to the loss, CHHS had won its first playoff game since 1992, beating McAdory in McCalla, 12-6, and capturing head coach Hugh Fountain’s first postseason win since coming to Troy in 1996.

The team that somehow found a way to win was the Goshen Eagles. GHS bounced back from a loss to 1A Billingsley to open the year, rival Luverne, and a region road loss to Red Level, to win the Class 2A Region 3 championship. Led by 1,000-yard rusher Quez Burden, Goshen won five straight region games, including a double overtime win over Straughn and a 14-13 victory over Highland Home, to claim the region crown. But after beating Excel in the first round of the playoffs, Goshen fell on the road to Horseshoe Bend.

Sophomore Chris Nickson passed and rushed for over 2,000 yards as the Pike County Bulldogs advanced to the semifinal round of the Class 3A state playoffs. PCHS knocked off three straight ranked teams in Fultondale, Springville and Aliceville, to reach the semifinal game, but was beaten by Tarrant in Brundidge, 21-13, just one win shy of reaching Birmingham and the "Super Six." Pike County ended the year with a 10-4 record.

The AISA returned to Troy in November for its second annual state football Tripleheader Championship. Monroe Academy, Clarke Prep and Marengo Academy all captured state titles at Troy’s Memorial Stadium.

Former Pike County and Alabama football player Cornelius Griffin made a big impact in his rookie season with the New York Giants. Griffin and the Giants made it to the Super Bowl, losing to Baltimore, 34-7.

CHHS offensive lineman and Class 5A Lineman of the Year Von Ewing signed a national letter-of-intent to play football with the University of Alabama in February.

 

Other highlights during the year

The PLAS golf team finished the season with an 8-2 record while CHHS’s golf team experienced success as well on the fairway. Eighth grade CHHS golfer Alyson Mitchell finished the season ranked as the sixth best girls golfer in the state.

The Troy State men’s track team won their third TAAC championship in four years and head coach Bob Lambert was named Coach of the Year.

In tennis, the CHHS boy’s team won their sectional tournament over Carroll in Ozark and advanced to the state competition in Mobile.

Wayne Grant and the Pike County Bulldogs layed the foundation for state title run in football by winning the Class 3A powerlifting state championship in April.

Charles Henderson fielded its first ever soccer team, winning their first game of the year, a 6-0 decision over Holtville High School.