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Counting down Southwest Georgia’s Top 10 sports stories of 2012 --- #10: Albany Panthers repeat as arena league champs

Albany starting quarterback Cecil Lester, right, hugs backup Darnell Kennedy during their celebration at the Civic Center after the Panthers repeated as league champs during the summer, thanks to Kennedy filling in down the stretch for an injured Lester, who then returned in the title game to finish the job. (Herald file photo)

Albany starting quarterback Cecil Lester, right, hugs backup Darnell Kennedy during their celebration at the Civic Center after the Panthers repeated as league champs during the summer, thanks to Kennedy filling in down the stretch for an injured Lester, who then returned in the title game to finish the job. (Herald file photo)

Not satisfied with one, Cecil Lester and the Panthers brought another championship to Albany in 2012.

Then, a few months later, Lester and his fellow arena league football stars decided to return to the Good Life City for a shot at a three-peat.

It was a year to remember for the Panthers, who won the inaugural Professional Indoor Football League championship in June and then re-signed head coach Lucious Davis, their starting quarterback Lester and many of the key parts to the team in the following months.

Davis and most of his star players — including Lester, former Westover star wideout Antwone Savage and former Albany State defensive back Demetrie McCray — flirted with retirement at the end of the season, but one-by-one they have decided to come back to try and repeat once more their remarkable feats of the last two years.

The Panthers, who won the Southern Indoor Football League title in 2011, switched leagues in 2012 — and continued to dominate. They went on to beat the Richmond Raiders in the 2012 PIFL Championship game, 60-56, in front of 6,194 fans in attendance at the Albany Civic Center.

And that’s why the Albany Panthers’ championship repeat is The Herald’s No. 10 sports story of 2012.