SALE CREEK, Tenn. (WRCB) -- Every day after school, Tyler Anderson has to get in his car and head a few miles down the road to North Hamilton Elementary for his football practice.
The practice grounds have no lines or goalposts and is lined by bails of hay, but to the Sale Creek senior, they truly make up a field of dreams.
"I'd go anywhere to do this," Anderson said this week. "When you've waited this long for something, the little things don't matter.
That's the motto for Sale Creek football as it enters its first-ever season of varsity competition -- 105 years after the school first opened its doors.
"All they're worried about is playing ball," said head coach Ron Cox, whose team will play its season-opener without its game jerseys because the order has not yet shown up. "They don't care where we play or what we look like. They're just so hungry for a football program here and they're giving us all their effort."
Several players actually started giving the program their all five years ago.
Anderson and fellow senior Cody Daniel were a part of the original group of students who petitioned to start a football team back in 2007.
"There were a few of us who got together to ask about a football team, but I honestly didn't think they'd have one by the time I got to where I am now as a senior," Anderson said.
The first step in the process was forming a middle school team, which Sale Creek did in 2008.
Two years later, school officials finally announced they planned to add a varsity team with a start date in 2013, just in time for four seniors who never stopped believing.
"I was so excited. I'd rather play one year than not at all," said Daniel. "The kids that aren't on this field right now are going to regret it. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for all of us to be a part of this first-ever team here."
Being on that inaugural team brings with it plenty of challenges.
In addition to the raising funds and purchasing equipment, one of the most glaring issues is that most of the Panthers have not played a real game since middle school.
"You can't just show up and play ball on Friday nights," said Cox. "We're definitely a lot smaller than a lot of teams around here, so wee have to get in the weight room and work hard.
"I don't expect to go 10-and-0, but I don't expect to go 0-and-10, either. Our job is to build up this program and build great young men. From there, the wins and losses will come."
The next and greatest step yet in that process comes this Friday night.
Sale Creek will board a bus and travel a little over 50 miles to Oakdale for a debut that's been more than a century in the making.
"You hear about teams shaking off their first game jitters. Well, I'm sure there will be a few more jitters to shake off for us," said Anderson. "But I can't wait. It's going to be unbelievable."
Added Daniel, "I definitely had some jitters at the jamboree last week, but this week playing our first real game as a first-year team, I probably won't be able to breathe."
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