The Pinewood Prep football team has a new look this year, literally.
On Wednesday, the school unveiled its new football uniforms.
“I like the uniforms a lot,” quarterback Lewis Vaughan said. “There is a big difference. They are longer and they aren’t as tight for one thing.”
Naturally the uniforms incorporate the school colors, blue and white. However, the jersey numbers have a new design, as do the new helmets.
“Last year we generally had Penn State helmets,” Pinewood Director of Football Operations Frank Cuda said. “Our athletic director, Andy Morgan, came up with the idea of designing a P for the side of the helmets that we will brand and use for all of our sports teams.”
Also, the word Believe has been added to the back of each new jersey.
“The uniforms dictate what we have done with our theme,” Cuda said. “I’ve always believed we need a theme so I was looking around for something that would inspire us. Over a course of time I narrowed it down and decided on Believe. Our kids have to believe things are going to improve and we are going to add to what we already have.”
The Panthers have gone through multiple head coaches the last few years and have struggled. Pinewood finished last season with a 0-10 record. The team is out to break a 19-game losing streak this fall.
School officials are hoping the new uniforms and wristbands bearing the Believe logo will help boost player morale and draw additional support for the team.
“We have to believe in the good Lord and in each other,” Cuda said. “They have to believe in each other as teammates and in their coaches and everything. They have to believe in the things the coaches are putting into the program in order to improve it.”
Players on hand for the unveiling of the new uniforms seemed to be pleased.
“I think this is a step in the right direction,” lineman Grayson Charpia said. “It gives us a new beginning. It will help build unity and give our younger kids something to look forward to. We are hoping to end our losing streak this year and this helps us with motivation.”
Receiver and defensive back Steven Kennedy said he too is excited about the uniforms.
“There needs to be change for this program because we want to turn it around,” he said. “We are excited about football and the chance to improve.”
The rest of the team will get to use the new uniforms for the first time Aug. 19 when they face First Baptist in their home opener.
Michael Wright returns for his second season as the Panthers’ head coach and Cuda said he thinks stability for the program should make a difference next season.
“Things are going well,” Cuda said. “We have the same coaches we had last year so players know what to expect. My vision is for us to improve some each year through a process. You have to have a process and then interpret it to the players so they are clear on what you want to do.”
Morgan said he believes with time the Panther football reputation can be improved.
“We are in the back yard of one of the most well-known football programs around,” Morgan said. “In fact, we have several 4A football programs in our area so it is important for us to show we are serious about our football program. Our staff faces big challenges but they are all in so I think we will make improvements. We have a great young nucleus of kids in the Pinewood community and parents who are committed to our football program.”