Learning about Lanett

Published 10:08 am Thursday, February 1, 2018

It has been a special week for the Lanett High School football program.

On Saturday, members of the Panthers coaching staff traveled to Montgomery for the Alabama Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year Banquet.

There, offensive coordinator Chip Seagle was presented the Class 2A Assistant Coach of the Year Award. He was chosen over defensive coordinator Charlie Williams, who also was a finalist.

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Later in the day, Seagle and his fellow coaches rendezvoused with their players at LHS. A community-wide pep rally was held in the school’s gymnasium Saturday evening to honor the team’s 2017 2A state title.

Dignitaries, like Lanett Mayor Kyle McCoy, spoke. Highlights, cobbled together by All-State linebacker and budding videographer Braylon Harrington, graced a pop-up projection screen. Memories, fresh but fading, resurfaced.

On Sunday, Johnny’s Pizza in downtown West Point hosted the Panthers for a complimentary lunch. It was a thoughtful gesture from a proud local business.

Finally, on Tuesday, Seagle and head football coach Clifford Story brought seniors Baraskious Dowdell and Ty Truitt to the Alabama Sports Writers Association Player of the Year Luncheon in Montgomery.

The event was held at the Renaissance Hotel, which was across the street from where Seagle collected his hardware a few days prior.

I made the trip. It was well worth it. I watched as Dowdell became the first Lanett player in Story’s nine-year tenure to receive a state player of the year honor. ‘Boo Roc,’ as coaches and teammates call him, was selected the Class 2A Lineman of the Year.

He earned it. Over the course of the season, he tallied more than 100 tackles and had 14 sacks.

Truitt came up just shy of winning 2A Back of the Year, but that shouldn’t take away from his incredible campaign. He scored 33 touchdowns and produced more than 3,000 yards of total offense.

Those are mind-boggling numbers, and I wasn’t there to witness them. 

Due to my recent arrival — I’m closing in on one month at The Valley Times-News — I missed Lanett’s historic run. But I feel like I am beginning to understand its magnitude. Covering and reading up on events like the ones mentioned have given me a glimpse into the grandeur of the season. It also has helped me grasp the season’s meaning to the community.

The Lanett football team achieved unquestionable perfection on the football field. Its impact, however, seems to have extended far beyond any sideline.

That’s a special year.

Sam Chandler is sports editor of The Valley Times-News and can be reached by email at sam.chandler@valleytimes-news.com or by phone at 334-644-8106.