It may not make up for the crank phone calls, the manure on his football field, or the fact that his mailbox was the only one in the neighborhood that was blown up on Halloween.
But Aubrey Pennington, the football coach at the 650-student Casey County High School in Liberty, Ky., said a lot of bad memories were erased when his team ended its five-year, 50-game losing streak this fall.
"As a coach and teacher, I tell kids they have to keep trying because that's what life is about," Mr. Pennington said. "But after 40-some games, it gets hard to believe."
The losses were not all that Mr. Pennington and his Rebels of south-central Kentucky endured. The coach and history teacher was forced to get an unlisted phone number to stop crank calls. His wife avoided games because of jeering fans. Players were even forced to dodge manure piles after someone let cows loose on the football field the night before a home game.
But those are not the images that will linger most in the minds of Coach Pennington and the mere 17 players on the field for last month's homecoming game. Instead, the team will savor its 20-12 come-from-behind win over 1,500-student Louisville Christian Academy.
"[Losing] wasn't easy for them, and some quit. But I give a lot of credit to these kids who stayed with it and went against the grain," Coach Pennington said.
Westbury High School's star kicker wears a tiara with her football jersey.
Senior Cindy Wright, who became the first girl to score in a Houston interscholastic football game last month, was just crowned homecoming queen.
At recent home football games, Ms. Wright's friends lobbied for the player, holding up such banners as "Crown the Kicker."
"When they called my name, there was an uproar," Ms. Wright said last week. "It was crazy. I was kind of stunned."
The Texan's kicking career was launched by her soccer coach, who encouraged her to try out for football. The 5-foot-6-inch athlete kicked to please during tryouts, executing a 40-yard field goal.
She accepted a position to play varsity for the Rebels (unrelated, of course, to the team above) at the 2,200-student school.
The straight-A student athlete hopes to attend a research university where she can study to become a pediatrician or a dentist. Despite her football talents, she hopes to continue playing soccer.
--ROBERT JOHNSTON & JULIE BLAIR
Vol. 18, Issue 12, Page 3