LEXINGTON, Ky (WTVQ) – Last season for the first time since the 1970s, the Sayre Spartans played their first full varsity schedule. You would think they would struggle, right?
The Sayre Spartans began their season rattling off eight-straight wins.
“It was one of the greatest things I ever experienced. Greatest team I’ve ever been on, especially those seniors,” said senior quarterback Cole Pennington. “They loved every kid no matter if they were a freshman, sophomore, or a junior and the same thing throughout the whole team. So I think it was that brotherhood that was really the main reason we were able to do what we did.”
That feeling was felt throughout the team.
“It was just phenomenal,” says senior wide receiver Jackson Marshall. “Just the first year coming out as a varsity team just to be able to go 8 and oh it was just nothing unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of.”
When I talked to the Spartans a year ago those guys were bought in, locked in, and determined to set the tone. Head coach Chad Pennington says they did.
“Well I think buy in by your players is everything. It’s a player’s game. They have to own the program. They have to own the system. They have to own everything that we are doing,” says Coach Pennington. “As coaches we can only give them the roadmap and then they’ve got to take the road map and make it their own.”
From Coach Pennington on down, the Spartans know last year was last year. You have to leave it there, but you can continue to build on it and grow this program. And that means continuing to win and maybe even making a run the postseason.
“If we go out and show that we can do great things that just brings more guys along and it just fuels fire to this team,” says Marshall.
“Same thing every year we gotta build a new brotherhood because new guys, new pieces, but I think with our senior leadership this year I think we’re able to do it,” says Cole Pennington. “You can see at practice today we’re starting to click and bond and I feel like that’s the biggest thing is the relationship and that family piece.”
How do they take that next step? Coach Pennington says it comes down to their core values
“We gotta come today with a great work ethic everyday. We gotta come with great character. Making good decisions on and off the field,” says Coach Pennington. We gotta come with accountability. make each other accountable. Make ourselves accountable. And finally we gotta be resilient. When we get knocked down, which is gonna happen, how do we respond to that. If we focus on those core values, then the rest of it takes care of itself.”
Thankfully, the Spartans offense will Be led by 3-star QB and Marshall commit Cole Pennington. Senior wide out Jackson Marshall knows that gives them a leg up.
“I’m very blessed and just our chemistry,” says Marshall. “I’d say it really elevates our game. We throw almost every day last off season so just being able to go out and trust he’s going to be able to get the ball there and him being able to trust that I’ll catch it.”
Pennington knows it’s a team sport, but also strives to get better. Thankfully for him he has a former NFL quarterback as his coach…and his dad.
“It’s fun. You know he’s coached me since I was little and you know I’d say he didn’t want to coach me in high school, but just how things happened he had to,” says Cole. It’s fun having that relationship on the field. You know on the field he’s coach, off the field he’s dad. SO I call him coach on the field, but it’s really fun.”