LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – Sayre School made history in 2020 by bringing back its football program for the first time since it was removed in 1977. The new varsity squad brought in a big name to ring in the new era.
Former NFL and Marshall Univeristy quarterback Chad Pennington moved to central Kentucky shortly after his playing career ended and started coaching the middle school team at Sayre, and then helped start the new high school varsity program in 2020.
“Well I try to first of all convey to them that there’s nothing like Friday Night Lights, I’ve played on all three levels and Friday Night Lights is where it’s at, it’s the best type of football there is,” Pennington said, who played 11 seasons in the NFL at quarterback.
Entering the program’s third year, Pennington has brought a new show to Class 1A football in Lexington, putting together a strong football team that plays its home games at Sayre Athletic Complex off Athens-Boonesboro Road.
Cole Pennington, Chad’s son, showed out at quarterback for three seasons and is now playing Division-I football at Marshall, where his dad played as well. After Cole’s graduation, another Pennington is now taking the starting quarterback job: his younger brother Luke.
“I just like the Sayre community, big on Sayre football we’ve got a lot of fans on Friday nights and it was cool to start off the program, I was actually the water-boy in the first few years, I looked up to those guys and now I’m in their spot in their position making the plays so it’s pretty neat,” said Luke, a sophomore.
Luke played on both sides of the ball last season and even got some playing time at quarterback when they took out the starters. Everything he learned from his older brother Cole will be key to the Spartans’ success this season.
The extensive football experience Chad brings has brought a new level of respect to the sport at Sayre, with the players understanding they have a rare opportunity: learn the game from a former NFL player.
“His experience sort of speaks volumes compared to a coach that only coaches, so he’s been in our shoes plus everything else you know NFL so I think it’s a lot easier to trust his judgement on everything and that’s for all the players,” senior left tackle/defensive end Nicholas Willis said.
“All of our coaches including myself we’ve been in their position before, we’ve been 15-16 years old being a high school football player and student-athlete we understand the challenges even though we didn’t have Twitter growing up we still understand the challenges that they face,” Chad Pennington said.
The Spartans open the season on Friday night at home, a 7:30 p.m. kickoff against Eminence.