Panama City Beach, FL --- From Thursday through Saturday, Panama City Beach is hosting some high school football. The Home School Football Association hosting a tournament that will wrap up tomorrow on the Arnold campus.
Nine teams from seven states converged here to play some ball and fight for a national championship.
While high school football players all over the country are competing for state championships, a national title is on the line here in Panama City. The excitement, the anticipation, the preparation, and the desire is all the same. What's different is the athletes are all home schooled.
"It means so much to our program to have a tournament like this," says Lighthouse Christian (MO) Chargers head coach David Staley. "They play hard all year, and being a home school team we don't qualify for state playoffs or anything. To have the opportunity to play for a national championship is really what we work for all season long."
A relatively new tournament, it's been six years since the best teams consisting of home schooled players started facing off for a championship. It's an opportunity most athletes were not afforded years before, and one these current players do not take lightly.
"It means everything in the world to kids like us," says Chargers fullback and defensive end Connel Cavanaugh. "Most of us are from the outskirts of town, little places, little towns of 800 people. And we're coming here to Panama City, Florida.
Wide receiver Marvin Good is appreciative of the opportunity. "I think it's one of the greatest things to have a chance to play with my team, my friends and everything. Just the chance to show that we are actual great football players."
"It's really cool first of all just to be part of this team," says right guard and defensive end Ben Elam. "And that we as home schoolers, lots of home schoolers don't have the opportunity to play football and it's just really cool to be part of that and a national championship."
"It's means a lot to come out here and compete at a higher level with these teams," says Cavanaugh. "And I feel very blessed to be a part of it."
That Missouri team by the way undefeated, the favorite to win it all in that tourney which wraps up tomorrow at Arnold!