The House That Saunders Built

Cover Photo by Cecil Copeland: MDJ

“Your strongest muscle & worst enemy is your mind. If U don’t learn to control your thoughts, U will never learn to control your behavior!”

By Joyce Oscar,

No greater advice can be given to a football team! Like the little engine that could, the Pebblebrook Falcons have climbed many mountains and have finally landed on solid ground under the direction of sophomore head coach Kevin Saunders. Their fist game of the season against South Cobb High School, the community rival, set the tone for what would be the Falcon’s continued success. The Falcons have posted over 400 game points in the past two seasons. That’s more than the club has seen between the years 2012 to 2014 combined.

The Falcons are young offensively, four of its starting players are only sophomores. But, they’ve been playing like pebblebrook-13seasoned vets, never dwelling on a loss and playing each game like it was the first one. “We have some good underclassmen,” Saunders protests. “We only have two seniors on offense.”

Earlier in the season Saunders gave his young team a history lesson. He showed them all of the wins and accomplishments of past teams and assured them that they too could have a spot in history. “These kids just need to know that they can win, that it’s in them,” he says. That talk seems to have paid off, they practiced with a purpose, and let go of outside influences. Then it happened. He wasn’t expecting it until 2017, but Saunders got an early gift by securing a spot in the play-offs. “They are excited,” Saunders stated in an interview with the Marietta Daily Journal. “It’s big our kids, because none of them have ever experienced (the playoffs) before. It’s good for us. It’s great for us.”

We caught up with Saunders after the Newnan game to see what the atmosphere was like after the big win.

PB: Coach this is a big moment and accomplishment for this Falcon team. What was the atmosphere like in the locker room, knowing that this was probably the most important game of the season.

Saunders: The kids and coaches we extremely happy and excited. 5 wins and playoffs were a goal we had. Our team is really young and now they have been around me for over a year. That means they know what is required of them to be part of my program. Our players knew this was most important game and was just like a playoff game. We have great assistant coaches who believe in us and what we do.

PB: You guys were number 1 in the region for quite a while, do you think that rating helped keep the team motivated to grind harder?

Saunders: Yes,  being ranked and when the coaches asked me if we could change the way we practice so I said sure. That has helped tremendously.

PB: You’ve taken a program that was falling apart and built it into something that is becoming stronger and stronger.

Saunders:  I have been very fortunate to have the experience in turning programs around. Plus the experience in playoffs and championships it has helped us.

PB:  Do you think that Pebblebrook has earned a little more respect than they have received in the past?

Saunders: We have a young team who has gotten better each week. I do believe we have gotten respect. My first year, the kids played hard but didn’t really know the way I wanted them to play. We have a lot back next year and our kids are Used to me and staff. We now aren’t scared to play anyone.

This playoff berth is not the end of their journey, but the coaches believe that it’s a highlight of the process.