One by one, football players from Lighthouse Private Christian Academy roll off a school bus on a Thursday afternoon in mid-September.
They are lugging practice gear and backpacks on their shoulders as they get ready for another practice on a 90-degree day that features sunshine and unforgiving humidity.
Fewer than 30 players are on the field. Many are undersized for varsity football. Most have no experience. This is a team you’d typically find in one of those against-all-odds sports movies.
“Only three guys had taken a varsity snap before this year,” first-year head coach Oliver Wayne Longley said.
But then, this is only the second year of football for the school with campuses in Pensacola and Gulf Breeze.
The practice field being used is in a small park in the East Hill Area of Pensacola, and it’s a makeshift one complete with white yard lines painted onto the green grass.
Through four games, the Stingrays are 2-2, matching their win total from a season ago.
Read the full article in the Sept. 28 issue of Navarre Press. Subscribe online at navarrepress.com for as little as $38 per year.