In their third year of existence in Bay County, the Coastal Destroyers semipro football team is 4-1 on the year, sitting at the top of the Xtreme South Football League. The team is made up of people from all walks of life, from guys in the military, to cashiers at Target, but they all agree, by continuing to play, they're just living the dream. The Destroyers are like any other football team, they're just, a little older.
"Chiropractors love me. Doctors and everything," laughed fullback Matt Sciolino. "They keep giving me advice to quit, but I can't do it."
"42 years old," said defensive back Tony McKay. "I'm still out here for the love of the game."
It's the love of the game that keeps the guys coming back, regardless of ago. But it's also a chance to be seen at a higher level.
"I went to Webber International," said wide receiver Dexter Davenport, Jr. "I was playing ball, and I got scouted, and they wanted my to come to a camp. I went down to the camp, and they said they'd offer me a full ride."
"Some have played college ball and want the chance to get to arena or the NFL or CFL," Desmond Brown, owner and head coach, said. "We've have guys go to those tryouts."
It's behind a chain link fence in Panama City where the guys gear up for those opportunities, while others are just rehashing old memories. Regardless- football rules for the Destroyers, and that gameday feeling makes the price of the pain a little more worthwhile.
"I started back in 1978," remembered McKay. "Five years old, putting the pads on. You never get to old to play football. I tell my son that all the time. I love football."
"It gets better every year," said Sciolino. "I have to put a little more time in the gym, but every offseason you think about what you could have done different or better and you go into the next year even more excited about the possibilities."
It's an excitement that's spread throughout the local community, and in turn, the Destroyers look to give back to those that support them most.
"To give the community something that they can get behind," said Brown as to why he started the Destroyers three years ago. "Something that the younger kids can look up too. It hits a lot closer to home when they can come to a Destroyers game and see a guy play football at a high level then high school."
"It's just not us taking in from others, we're also giving out," said Davenport. "For us to be positive in this community, it's a special thing. I'm just thankful that the Lord has blessed me with the talent to be able to come out here and suit up."
Suit up and live the dream, for just a little longer. The Destroyers next home game is May 10th at Pete Edwards Field against the Santa Rosa Ravens. Gametime is at 6:30/CT at Pete Edwards Field. For more information on the Destroyers, and how to tryout, you can check out their website here.