Huntsville Panthers ready for a fresh start with a new head coach

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - For the third time in four years, Huntsville High starts fall camp with a new head coach.  Mark Fleetwood comes in after six years of coaching Peachtree Ridge high school in Georgia.  He`s also a long time college assistant with stops at Auburn, Jacksonville State and Troy.  Now his coaching journey brings him to Huntsville, and his new team has impressed him right away.  "The commitment, the work ethic, the way they jumped at going about doing things," Coach Fleetwood told WHNT News 19.  "The communication with the parents, just meeting, and the spirit about it all. That was exciting."

Not as exciting as these practices are about to be.  Fleetwood is all about competition and wants everyone to feel like they have to fight for their job every day.  He says competitive practices lead to a better football team.  "You go to practice with the idea that, if I don`t have a good practice somebody could beat me out.  That`s the idea you try to push every day.  When I go out there, if I don`t do good today coach is going to put someone in front of me."

He has a hungry and eager bunch to work with.  The Panthers have just eight combined wins over the last three years, and they are ready to change that.  The players are ready to hit the reset button and start a new tradition at Huntsville.  "We put that chip on our shoulder as a team, and we don't want to have that.  Everyone, all Huntsville teams usually are successful," senor offensive lineman Boots Ellett said.  "It's rough cause we would be the first class to ever go through Huntsville High and not make the playoffs, and so we don't want that to happen."

Huntsville opens the season Thursday, August 31 versus Decatur.