HUNTINGTON — Chad Pennington is having a good time coaching high school football — most of the time.
“I enjoy in between the white lines,” Pennington said, with a laugh. “I don’t enjoy the administrative piece.”
The former Marshall University and NFL star quarterback is head football coach at Sayre High School in Lexington, Kentucky. Pennington was hired as coach two years ago when Sayre began a junior varsity team. Last season was the first for the school’s varsity since 1976. The Spartans went 1-6.
With about 140 boys, Sayre is one of the smaller football-playing schools in the Bluegrass State. Even with a former New York Jet and Miami Dolphin on the sideline, the Spartans aren’t going to schedule the Louisville Males of the world.
Sayre takes on Class A schools, including Phelps on Oct. 16 and Fairview on Nov. 6. Pennington said both games likely are to be played at Kentucky Christian University in Grayson.
Pennington said he was happy to reach a deal with Fairview. That game came about after the Kentucky High School Athletic Association shortened the season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing member schools to scramble to adjust their slates.
“This decision left another date to schedule a ninth regular-season game for 2020,” Pennington said. “(Fairview coach Daniel) Armstrong and I had been in communication earlier in the year regarding our 2021-22 schedules. Although we couldn’t work out any dates for that cycle, this opportunity came about and he contacted me.”
Armstrong and Pennington share a mutual friend in Lexington Frederick Douglass High School coach Nate McPeek, a former Thundering Herd offensive lineman and one-time coach at Fairview.
“We both feel this is a great competitive matchup for both programs,” Pennington said.
A 1999 Heisman Trophy finalist and 2000 first-round draft pick of the Jets, Pennington said the process of building a program from scratch has been challenging but fun. This season marks the first full schedule for Sayre in 44 years.
Pennington said adding football to the educational experience at Sayre benefits everyoe involved.
“The game of football is a perfect platform to assist in developing our student-athletes in every aspect of their lives,” he said.
One of those student-athletes is Cole Pennington, the coach’s son and a 6-foot-2, 185-pound junior quarterback.