BELFRY, Ky. — ‘Pond Creek Nation’ celebrated their 3-peat state football title on Wednesday afternoon with a pep rally at Belfry High School.
The Belfry Pirates were welcomed by a gym full of fired up fans. High school and middle school students, staff and several community members gathered to congratulate their team.
“It’s a great privilege for me to be a part of Belfry High School and the Belfry Football team,” said Coach Philip Haywood who spoke at the pep rally about the importance of Pond Creek. “It’s hard to put into words, but it’s just a very unique school and area. It’s a very special program. There’s a certain spirit that kind of runs through this community. A heartbeat that permeates the area. People come out on Friday night excited. It’s passed on from one generation to the other.”
Team members received their state championship medals at the pep rally.
“When we started out at the beginning of the season, we were a little shaky,” said Andrew Fletcher, Junior Fullback. “Throughout the season though, we really came together. Once we played Cabell-Midland,it really showed us where we were at and we just kept growing from there. We just kept getting better.”
Coach Haywood said he and his team thought they had a “chance of being pretty good this year,” but he never could have imagined the outcome of Sunday’s championship game.
“I guess the thing we never really dreamed of is that we would win a state championship by 43-0,” Haywood said. “Our kids started peaking at the right time of the year. And that’s what we try to do. We don’t rush things. We just take it a week at a time, and we played our best football game the last game of the year.”
School officials say the title is not just important to the football program, but to the entire school and community.
“God has blessed us so much,” Fletcher said. “We’ve come so far. But it’s not about me or any individual, it’s about the whole team and the community. To be out there on the field and hear them cheering, there’s no other feeling in the world like it.”
Coach Haywood says all of the hard work he and his team have put in this year is worth it because of the joy it brings to the team and the community.
“Every championship game we’ve been in has been right down the wire, win or lose,” Haywood said. “A last minute, last second kind of game. But being able to look up with four minutes to go with the clock ticking and saying “hey, we got this thing,” that was a great feeling. I’m so happy and proud for them. I’ve been blessed to be a part of the program. Just turning around and looking at them and the joy in their faces, that’s worth it for me.”
The team was also honored during Belfry’s first basketball game Tuesday night.