MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - These are good times for the Prattville Christian Academy panthers. Touchdowns, cheers, and so far 6 wins, good enough already to earn a spot in the playoffs. Before this year, the school had only won 3 games in 3 years.
"I'm a conductor, I guess. I was able to connect the wires somehow," said Coach Grey Powell.
New head coach Grey Powell makes it sound so easy considering the team didn't even win a game last year. You could say the Panthers were the 'bad news bears' of local high school football.
Powell chuckles at the thought but that knowing laugh does not laugh away the hard work it took to turn the program around. Yes, like most schools there were the two-a-days in the summer, early morning work-outs but something else, a different kind of playbook installed along with a new offense.
"We're straight up about it. We want to play for God's glory in all that we do. We created a culture of competition, fun and giving something that's bigger than yourself," said Powell.
That apparently has been the difference between night and day, and we're not just talking about wins and losses. The players seem to catching lessons of a lifetime.
Case in point.
"Pretty difficult," said Rashaad Williams.
One year ago last Friday cornerback Rashaad Williams lost his mom unexpectedly, not an easy thing to endure for a teenager.
"I cried all day," he said.
Coach Powell didn't just get Williams' teammates to huddle around him before the game last week but took the time to accompany Rashaad to his mother's grave in Montgomery. For Williams that felt so much better than snagging an interception.
"God has shown me a lot of blessings since I met Coach Powell," said Williams.
And then there's the story of J.J. Hudson. the team's safety. By his own admission J.J. hung out with the wrong folks but says that all changed when he transferred to PCA and met a man named Grey Powell, offering a dose of fun and a stadium full of insight.
"He makes you smile when you're down and he says if you do something good, you didn't do it. God gave you the honor to do it," said Hudson.
Using football as a metaphor for life, coach Powell simply wants his kids to know that life won't always be fun and games. Lend a hand and help people. Part of the deal is getting back up after getting knocked down, something the Panthers are doing every week under the Friday night lights and winning along the way.
"No matter what the situation is, if you give your best.. that's always enough," declared coach Powell.
Talk about coming a long way. Prattville Christian Academy is just 12 years old and this is the 4th year the school has fielded a high school football team.
The Panthers currently stand at 6 and 3 for the season.
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