2020 36 Blitz: Sayre Spartans

LEXINGTON, Ky (WTVQ) – Last season, the Sayre Spartans played eight varsity games and one junior varsity game.  This season, they will play their first full varsity schedule since the 70s.  To help, they will have a former NFL quarterback roaming the sidelines as head coach.

“I was fortunate enough to play in the NFL,” said former NFL QB Chad Pennington. “To be in the collegiate level as well, but as a coach I really felt like my passion was on the high school level because that’s where our young men are formed during a young age. You can develop some great relationships that will last for a lifetime”

From high school to the NFL, Chad Pennington took on all challenges even almost winning an NFL MVP, but reviving a program that’s been dormant since the 70s…that’s a different monster. The administrative part, fundraising that’s all new, but now it’s finally time to play ball.  That’s when he’s in his element

“The game of football, you’re exactly right, never changes. I’ve played on all three levels. There’s nothing better than Friday Night Lights,” says Pennington. “I grew up on a Friday night bus. My dad was a high school football coach for 30 years. I love those relationships that are formed in high school. I love being able to help young men learn what it’s like to be a young man and use the game of football to develop them.”

Having a former NFL quarterback as you coach obviously gets guys to buy in.

“I mean obviously he’s had a ton of success in football,” said senior wide receiver and defensive back Michael Madden. “So you’d be pretty ignorant not to believe what he says. He really trusts us. He puts in a lot of work, he puts in a lot of his own time. And it’s not just coach Pennington, it’s a lot of the other coaching staff that he’s brought in. They’re great and they all focus on each individual person to make sure that we’re out best selves.”

Pennington obviously hasn’t built all this on his own.  It takes players and he’s had some guys now seniors who hit the pavement to recruit for the team.

“It’s been a slow process and a lot of people were hesitant at first, but over time I think they saw Coach Pennington’s commitment to staying safe and they started to buy in,” says senior tight end and linebacker Ford Webb. “We were out there creating a camaraderie within our group.”

By reviving a program, the players feel like they are going to be remembered for bringing back the program.

“It’s actually pretty exciting to say that we were pioneers,” said Madden. “To say that we are starting our own football program, that’s actually pretty exciting at least for me. And I kinda think it will reinvigorate our school’s athletic program.”

To say these guys are ready to go is an understatement, they’ve been ready. All that’s left to do is for that first Friday night to roll around, the lights to come on at this stadium and it’s go time. When that does happen, these Spartans are ready to make history.

“We’re kinda chomping at the bit right now so I think we finally get our pads on and get those lights on, we’re going to be ready to go,” said Madden.

Their head coach echoes that sentiment and he knows that feeling will go much further than the field.

“That first Friday night game, I can’t tell you the emotions that are going to be running through our kids, through our coaches, through our parents and our family that just want to see our kids enjoy each other’s company, go out and compete in a safe way and really enjoy the game,” said Pennington.

After not being able to practice because the pandemic, the seniors are soaking up every bit of summer practice.

“I really love being out here and smelling the grass,” said Webb. “It’s like fall is here. We’re ready to play some football. I think these guys are too. And I think we’re really excited to get out there and compete. I think we’re ready.”

Categories: Featured, Football – General, High School Highlight Reel, Sports