BURTONSVILLE — All the players from the Paint Branch varsity football team huddled in a circle Friday night after their 4A North regional finals loss. The Panthers had just put forth a valiant effort in an attempt to defeat the visiting Howard Lions, the same squad that had eliminated them from the playoffs in 2014. However, undefeated Howard would emerge victorious once again to claim its fourth regional finals victory in as many years by a score of 33-20.
Even though many Paint Branch players were visibly upset, they still put their hands together over an uplifted Panthers helmet and shouted “family.”
“When we say ‘family,’ we mean it,” said Paint Branch head coach Mike Nesmith. “In games like this, so many alumni come back and they’re always around the program. Everybody says ‘family’ but we feel like we live it.”
Perhaps it was that familial bond between the players that helped propel the Panthers to a division title and their best record since 2013.