Family atmosphere at Saint Jo propelling Panthers toward history

Saint Jo making history with long playoff run

SAINT JO, Texas (TNN) - “I think we’ve proved a lot of people wrong," Saint Jo senior lineman Pepe Gam said.

Something special is happening in Saint Jo.

The Panthers made the playoffs for the first time in six years, but that was just the start.

Saint Jo is in the third round for the first time in school history and one reason they have had this success was something that happened in the offseason.

“A lot of times when a new coach comes in, sometimes the seniors don’t buy into doing things a different way," Saint Jo head coach Mark Stevens said. "From day one they have really done a good job of trusting our coaching staff.”

Senior leadership is one of the best intangibles a team can have.

But on top of that, you need a coach who enables those leaders to succeed and the Panthers have that.

“He believes in us," Gam said. "We are a small school and he still believed that we could achieve big things.”

“He doesn’t get mad over little things, he just helps us be our best and coaches us to the best of our abilities and I think that really helped all year," Saint Jo senior WR/DE Connor Thompson said.

One thing you don’t see often in six-man football is low scores, but the Panthers have taken pride in their defense allowing 14 points or less seven times this season; they are also giving up just 21 points a game in the playoffs.

But one of the main reasons they have had so much success this season is their team before I mentality and that is what coach Stevens says makes this Panthers squad special.

“Tremendous amount of unselfishness amongst the kid," coach Stevens said. “They aren’t worried about who is scoring the touchdowns, they are willing to block for each other. Just been a tremendous amount of unselfishness and I think that is what good teams are.”

“We are like family," Thompson said. "Brothers almost and we just treat each other with the most respect, pick each other up when we are down.

"Yeah, we are just family I guess.”

1A DI REG. FINAL

Saint Jo vs Blum Friday 6 p.m. Springtown

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