PORT ST. JOE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Winning a state championship was always the dream for the Port St Joe class of 2019.
"You say I want to win a state championship, I want to finish my career off strong with all my boys, but it never really seems to go that way" senior quarterback and pitcher Josh Butts said. "The fact that [the baseball team] did is crazy."
Always—from the time they were five years old.
"All of us," senior short stop Jaden Grantland added. "Every single one played since all stars in Double A...stayed together ever since."
Last season was a dream come true. Going back to back is a dream in the making.
In between...a nightmare.
"It was tough seeing our town the way it was," head coach Ashley Summerlin recalled of the devastation following Hurricane Michael. "It wasn't just the baseball field. It was kids homes, schools, businesses. Everybody's lives were turned upside down."
Everything changed, but you know what they say: the more things change, the more they stay the same.
"It's a special place, and until you're a part of it, you don't understand,:" Summerlin said. "I've never been supported like I've been. From our administration to the town, they just buy into that whole St. Joe Pride."
What is "St. Joe Pride?"
It's what got the high school teams back on their feet.
"Donations," Grantland said. "We've gotten multiple bats, a lot of baseballs, everything, because they know how much it means to us. Sports is a big thing in our town."
The support is unwavering across all sports and seasons. Most of the players are the same, as are the fans cheering them on.
That's the way it's always been.
"Through baseball and little league football, we've been with each other for a really long time and grown to be like brothers," Butts remarked.
Despite the chaos, that's how it is this year too.
"We had some kids that had some issues that had to move from one place to another, but they stayed true to us," Summerlin said. "I think that's just a testament to our kids, our program, the family atmosphere we have. For them to be here, it shows how our town has grown through this."
Even as the seniors wrap their high school careers...if the last decade is any indication, that's probably how it always will be.
"It's what we've been doing our whole lives," Grantland agreed. "Nothing new."