MART, TX — With a difference of only one point and 26 seconds on the clock, the Mart Panthers suffered a devastating loss to the Windthorst Trojans at the UIL State Championship after a last second two point conversion.
“The football and the athletic program in Mart makes me proud everyday. Seeing these kids go out there and give their all to something, especially in a year that has been so trying, just amazes me,” said Mart Superintendent Betsy Burnett.
“That's obviously not how we wanted to end this season, but we couldn’t be more proud of these kids. One is hard to get. Three is super hard to get, and we were asking them to four-peat with everything going on. So we are just very very proud of these kids as a community,” said Mart Panther's Booster Club President Brad Gooden.
The 2020 Mart Panther football team overcame the strangest season yet. While they didn’t become the four-peat state champions on Wednesday night, the purple and gold flags still fly proudly in the downtown square.
“Football to this community is real big. It's exciting every Friday night that you get to go watch some kids that you went to school with their parents, or your own kids, and you get to see them perform and wear that purple and gold,” said Mart City Council Member John Garrett.
“Whether it's the state championship game or it’s the games here in Mart, people show up early because they just want to be apart of it. It's such an electric atmosphere that everybody wants to be in it, around it," said Jeff Pechacek, member of Mart Panther's Booster Club.
Mart has won eight total state championships, which is the second most in the state. But for the small town of just over 2,000 people, it's more than just about the wins and losses. It's about Panther pride.
“You go to other towns and people look up to NFL players, people that play in college. Our kids grow up wanting to be Mart Panthers. They want to be like the people that was before them. So it started when I was little. I wanted to be like the kids that was in high school, and it keeps going,” said Garrett.
While the Panthers don’t get to come home as state champions, they do get to come home to a town that is ready to support them now and every game in the future under the Friday night lights.