HIGHLAND HOME, AL (WSFA) - When you think about team nicknames some are pretty common. There are the Tigers, Eagles, and the Lions just to name a few. Before World War II the Crenshaw County Panthers were no different, but that all changed in the 1940's. That's when the team changed its name to the Flying Squadron.
"There's a story behind that," said new football coach Tom Pinkston. "Back in World War II most of the players went off to war. The city had a planned spotter to track the war planes when they flew overheard. One day the spotter saw a bunch of planes and ran and got the coach. When the coach looked up in the air he said 'look a whole squadron.' When the boys got back the team was renamed the Flying Squadron."
It's a story they all know. Every year at the school's homecoming pep rally they retell the story. And believe me, they all know it well.
Soon after the school took on the new nickname they wanted to have something out front to show their patriotism and pride. The goal was to get a jet. It took more than 50 years, but the F-16 fighter jet finally made a permanent landing on campus a few years ago. It sits right out front. Drivers on Highway 331 can't miss it. "Sometimes people stop to take a picture and read the monument," said principal Joseph Eiland. "You just don't see this everywhere."
For the players, being different is just fine. "People will ask us, who do you play for?" said quarterback John Dunn. "They say what are you talking about? We just tell them, Flying Squadron."
Whether it's the unusual nickname or the giant F-16 jet out front, the principal says they like being different. "We are the ones with the jet and the only squadron around." They're flying high and flying proud in Highland Home, a town that loves its Flying Squadron.