By D Mark Mitchell
The Opelika Bulldog football team, band and cheerleaders are all starting to practice for the 2012 season.
The teams practice every day in the heat to be the best they can be. The cheerleaders, under the coaching of Brandy Riddle continue to rack up the awards at numerous competitions and are learning the routines and cheers they will use during the football games.
The “Spirit of the South” marching band usually practices twice a day with breaks. The band is large in numbers and always puts on a great show at halftime. The group features a flag team, majorettes and a dance team, all of them outstanding.
Coach Brian Blackmon will start practicing the football team at 6 p.m. on Aug 1. Blackmon said the heat along with the fact the games are starting at 7 p.m. are the main reasons he moved to the new practice time.
The team will get on the field around 3 p.m. after school starts. The football team reports to the athletic department at 1:45 p.m. during school. The Dawgs play their first game Aug. 31 against Benjamin Russell of Alexander City.
Opelika will have the annual “Meet The Bulldogs” Aug. 21 at Bulldog Stadium. The band, cheerleaders and football teams will be introduced to the fans.
The Junior Dixie Boys state tournament ended Wednesday night at West Ridge Park. Enterprise won the state title and will advance to Christianburg, Va., Aug. 4.
The tournament was a huge success. The seven teams started out the weekend arriving at the Sportsplex Friday afternoon for a meal at the Opelika Sportsplex and Aquatics center.
The players ate and heard guest speaker, Auburn University Baseball Coach John Pawlowski. Coach Pawlowski talked to the players and coaches for about 20 minutes about life, the game of baseball and making the right choices in life. After the banquet the teams were escorted to West Ridge Park for the opening ceremonies and a home run derby contest. Each team used two players and a coach to try to hit the most home runs. After a tie-breaker, AUM won the derby.
The band, Route 66, played before, during and after the ceremonies at the park. The fans enjoyed the night and I want to thank Coach Pawloski and Route 66 for helping to make the night special.
The tournament started Saturday and ended Wednesday night. Enterprise defeated AUM to win the state title.
I wanted to also thank all of the local businesses and citizens who helped to make this tournament special.
ESG Director Michael Hilyer and his team worked long and hard to keep the park clean and looking good for the teams. The field crew made sure the fields were ready before every game and spent several hours working after a heavy rain delayed the start of Tuesday night’s games.
I also want to thank the Recreation Department, Mayor Gary Fuller and Council President Eddie Smith for their help with the state tournament.
Pictures from the Home Run Derby are on page B6.
14-year-old Dixie Boys Team
I am sure you noticed on the front page of today’s paper that the 14-year-old Dixie Boys All-Star team won the state title for the second year in a row.
The team is heading to their second World Series in as many years. Opelika will play in the World Series next Friday in Covington,Ga.
State Swim Meet
The Alabama Parks and Recreation Departments’ State swim meet will be held in Opelika today and tomorrow.
The meet is expected to bring in over 1,000 swimmers to the Sportsplex to compete.
The Opelika Sportsplex and Aquatics center is a state of the art facility and ideally equipped to handle the meet.
The event begins today at 10 a.m. and will finish around 6 p.m. tonight. Then they will start at 8 a.m. Saturday and will be finished by 5 p.m.
This event will bring several thousand visitors to our city.
If you get a chance, go to the Sportsplex and support the Opelika SeaDawgs swim team which will have 40 swimmers in the meet.