By DAVID CLAYBOURN
Another football season kicks off at 7:30 tonight for the Greenville Lions as they travel to Princeton to take on the Panthers.
Marvin Sedberry is back for his 13th season as the Lions’ head football coach in his third stint in Greenville. Sedberry coached the Lions from 1992-2000, then from 2002-3 and returned for the Lions’ 2012 season. He and his staff are trying to get the Lions back to their successful seasons from 1995-2003, when they made nine straight trips to the playoffs, winning five district championships, five bi-district titles and two regional championships.
The Lions are in the rebuilding mode as they were in 1992, when Sedberry and his staff first started in Greenville. They’ve lost their last 30 games, dating back to a victory over Rockwall in the 2009 season finale.
Princeton, meanwhile, went 10-2 last year in Class 3A, reaching the Division I regional semifinals. The Panthers have a new head coach, Lee Wilkins, as Stacey Dillard was promoted from football coach to athletic director. They return five starters on offense and seven on defense.
“They’ve got three to four very skilled athletes,” said Sedberry, who noted quarterback Jourdan Blake and wide receiver Jakari Dillard. “Those are the four key guys as far as offense. Our concern is containing those guys.”
Greenville prepped for Princeton by scrimmaging a Gilmer team that was a 14-2 state finalist last season in 3A. The Buckeyes broke some big plays on the Lions, outscoring them 4-1 in touchdowns during the controlled portion of the scrimmage and 2-0 in live action.
“We hope we’ll do a better job of tackling,” said Sedberry. “We’re very concerned about that. I think the only way to fix that (tackling problem) is to play.”
Tyler Matthews, who rushed for 404 yards and one touchdown on 88 carries last season, scored the Lions’ only touchdown in the scrimmage on a 1-yard run. It was set up by some big gains on scrambles by sophomore quarterback Spencer Gilbert II.
Princeton won last year’s game, 33-13 in Greenville. Princeton outgained the Lions 354-131 in total yardage.
Blake was 9-of-19 passing for 107 yards in that game as Dillard caught four passes for 42 yards.
Greenville wound up with 66 yards rushing and 65 yards passing, scoring on a 90-yard kickoff return and an 11-yard pass.