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2008: full of surprises

The sports world in Pike County went through a historic year in 2008. There were ups and downs, but for the most part it was a good year to be an athlete in Pike County.

Pike Liberal Arts School punctuated the year with the first ever state championship of any kind for the school in football. This game was a true battle for the top spot, but it was the end of the road to history for the entire county.

The year 2008 saw all four high school football teams in Pike County make the state playoffs for the first time ever. This is such a great thing for the county and it shows that this is one talented area.

It was a joy to watch all those teams in action. They each had their own way to succeed and it all culminated in four playoff berths and one state championship.

And on the biggest stage in Pike County, the Troy University Trojans won their third Sun Belt Championship, but this one was different. This time the Trojans won the title outright with no doubt. This was another great day in Pike County history.

And with the outright title came many all-conference team bids, the Newcomer of the Year award for Levi Brown and the Coach of the Year award for Larry Blakeney.

Unfortunately the Trojans could not seal the season off with a win in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, but it was a great season for the team nonetheless.

The Trojans should be in for another good season in the coming year.

But before the football season kicked off, the Troy American Legion Post 70 baseball team finished what they could not accomplish a few months earlier.

This squad won the Junior American Legion state tournament at Riddle-Pace Field right here in Troy. It was great to see this group of guys that so many counted out win it all.

They were part of the Charles Henderson team that made its second trip to the Class 5A state finals in five years in 2008, but lost to Cullman.

Now this team must try to translate their summer success into spring success when the season starts.

All these state championship runs were great because there is nothing better for a sports reporter than covering a state championship. I wish it would have been two state championships, but I know the Trojans will get it this year.

I was introduced to the intense nature of sports in Pike County in my first week on the job for The Messenger this year. I came in and right away went to cover Opening Day for the Troy Parks and Recreation baseball and softball season.

That was a treat and then there were many tournament teams from that league that did well and we were covering recreation baseball and softball well into August.

It is just great to be around a bunch of teams that do well and have fun while playing.

And before I got here the Charles Henderson Lady Trojans basketball team made their run at a state title, but came up just short in the Regional final. I am sure that would have been another great run to cover.

So I would ask the teams of the Pike County area to keep up the good work and maybe there will be even more state titles in 2009.

I hope all the athletes look back fondly on 2008 and I know there will be plenty of good news to talk about in the New Year. Let’s all celebrate the coming of 2009 and hope that it brings good things to all the area high schools.

Bye, bye 2008 and bring on 2009!

Matt Nascone is the sports editor for The Messenger. He can be reached at 670-6315 or online at matt.nascone@troymessenger.com.