Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.|
Athens High senior Ferrell Williams carries the Class 5A state championship football trophy during a parade of players at a ceremony honoring the Golden Eagles at the school Friday.
Thrill of title hasn't worn off for 5A Athens
By Brooke Milam
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ATHENS — Nearly two months after beating Eufaula 10-7 on Dec. 8 at Birmingham's Legion Field, the excitement of winning the 2006 Class 5A football state championship that night hasn't worn off for the Athens High Golden Eagles.
"I still get asked about it every day, and it isn't getting old at all," Golden Eagles head coach Allen Creasy said. "It's a great experience."
Athens students, administration, fans and supporters from the community filled the high school gym Friday afternoon for the official celebration and presentation of the championship trophy to the school.
"It's still really exciting," senior receiver Vincent Azzarello said at the event. "Everything has definitely been worth it."
Many of the same people who cheered for the Golden Eagles all season were on their feet again Friday as team members paraded the trophy around the gym.
Dan Washburn, outgoing executive director of the Alabama High School Athletic Association, made the trip from Montgomery to help recognize the team and publicly offered his congratulations along with Athens Mayor Dan Williams.
Athens High principal Chris Bolan and Orman Bridges Jr., superintendent of Athens City Schools, also spoke to the group and expressed their appreciation for what the team's accomplishments have meant to the community.
Each player received a copy of the resolution stating congratulations from former Alabama Secretary of State Nancy Worley.
Each team member also received the Marvin A. Clem State Award, traditionally given to each Athens High state champion. The award honors a former administrator, and applause went up for each name called.
And no championship celebration would be complete without the token playing of Queen's "We are the Champions," while the crowd watched season highlights on an oversize projector screen.
The memories are still fresh and Creasy said he doesn't expect them to fade any time soon. Creasy said he expects that for him and his players, years down the road the 2006 state championship will still come up in conversation.
"There's no question — because we ask guys from the '75 and '76 team members about it all the time," Creasy said.
Athens has previously won football state titles in 1975 and '76 and members of those championship squads were invited to Friday's event and had special seating on the gym floor.
Creasy expressed thanks to those two teams for their support.
"What we've done this year is just an extension of what you accomplished," Creasy said, addressing Athens' past state champions.
"We came into a great tradition and hopefully we've left our mark and given guys in the future something to shoot for like you've done for us."
As Athens High's football team goes down in history as the state's best Class 5A squad, Creasy won't forget this group.
"I'm very proud of this team," Creasy said. "They've set the bar high."
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