It’s been quite a journey for the Kentucky Spartans, but today they finally get their chance to play for a national championship.
The Spartans, Owensboro’s semi-professional football team, will face the Palmetto Hurricanes at 2:30 p.m. CST in hopes of accomplishing their long-time dream of bringing home the title.
Kentucky went 11-1 in league play before winning their conference playoff championship. A handful of local players then helped them win a game that allowed the Spartans to advance to the national championship.
Defensive back and team co-owner Matthew Douglas said he’s waited a long time for this opportunity.
“Man it means the world,” he said. “I’ve played for 7 years and this is honestly the biggest game I’ve been a part of in my life. Some people don’t think much of this, but it took 7 years to get here, and I won’t take it for granted.”
With most players having full-time jobs, there are plenty of struggles that go along with keeping the team together and maintaining a high level of competition.
“Practicing (is a struggle) for sure,” Douglas said. “With no one being paid by the team, it’s hard to get everyone on the schedule. Having 55-60 players and expecting all of them to be able to be off on Saturdays and Wednesday nights is very hard.”
Money, of course, is always an issue. Douglas said as they tried to give the team a new identity and build a championship-caliber squad this year, the community helped along the way.
“Football is a very expensive sport, but this past year the community really helped us,” he said. “That’s what I love about Owensboro is they really help their own.”
The roster is filled with players who attended the local high schools and colleges, but everyone on the team would take pride in bringing a national title back home.
“Bringing back a title to Owensboro would mean everything to us,” Douglas said. “I wasn’t born here but my entire family was and this is my home. I know there would be no greater thing but to bring that trophy back to Owensboro and the great people of this city.”
The Spartans head into the game without much knowledge about the Hurricanes, other than they are 11-0 this year. That’s not stopping Douglas and the rest of the team from having high expectations.
“I think with our athletes and coaching staff, we can come back as champions,” Douglas said.
The game, played in Altamonte Springs Florida at Lake Blantley High School, will be streamed live on the Kentucky Spartans Facebook page.