West Florida finishes underdog story in Kansas City

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - There are few things sports fans love as much as a good underdog story.

Central Florida has made headlines for its remarkable turn around. In the panhandle, West Florida is staking its claim for the underdog story of the year in Division II.

The team flies out early Thursday morning to Kansas City, where they'll play Texas A&M Commerce in the national championship game. What makes their journey so impressive is not just that they missed the playoffs with a 5-6 record last year; this is only the programs second year in existence.

A group of players from our area are part of this accomplishment.
Austin Johnson from Rutherford, Stephen Matthews from Blountstown, Daryl Wilson from Bay, Austin Peffers from Arnold, Dalton Simpler from Freeport, and Adam Hydle from Walton are all contributing on the roster this season.

The UWF football tradition is being sculpted right now, which makes an easy sales pitch for head coach Pete Shinnick.

"The first two recruiting classes, those guys, I give them a lot of credit. They bought into the vision that we wanted to have for the program," Shinnick said. "They had to see what the future could look like while we were selling them what the future could look like and they're really the foundation for this program that has gotten us to where we are right now."

The national championship kicks off at 6 eastern/5 central on Saturday, and we'll feature the local players in upcoming sportscasts on Thursday and Friday.