Wayne Christian has been building toward this moment.
The Eagles started a football program from scratch in 2015. One year later, Wayne Christian received its first-ever playoff bid.
However, in July 2018, lack of interest and the dwindling number of total boys attending the school prompted the school to shelve football and try again in 2019.
“This is our third year of the program being back,” Wayne Christian head coach Luis Miranda said. “We didn’t know what was going to happen, so we started co-opting with homeschoolers.
“It was a decision we made to partner with homeschools to grow our program back.”
And since returning to the gridiron, the Eagles have soared. In 2019, Wayne Christian went 4-3-1 for its first winning season in school history.
During the 2020 season, Wayne Christian went 3-0, but having a homeschooled student on the roster made the Eagles ineligible for the playoffs.
“We were surprised it was as successful as it was, but now that we’re three years into it, we’re just so thankful for those first couple years with homeschoolers because it gave us the opportunity to be able to have football,” Miranda said.
This season, the Eagles made even more strides on the field.
They finished this season 6-3, won a conference title for the first time in program history, and most importantly, are one game away from winning a state title.
Miranda credits the student-athletes for buying in and for helping create a winning culture around the Eagles’ football program.
“We’ve been fortunate with some great athletes that have come through the school, and I think that’s a testament to young men, their hard work, and believing in the vision,” Miranda said. “For us, the ultimate goal is to develop young men.”
The Eagles have 12 seniors on the roster, and all of them have been vital pieces to Wayne Christian’s success, and all of that success has made students in elementary school and in middle school aspire to join the football team one day.
“In the hallways, we have kids who are in fourth and fifth grade say they’re ready to come to play football,” Miranda said. “This year, we had a big group of sixth-graders, who played JV football, so just seeing those numbers continue to grow and get better, and the kids are excited about being a part of that.”
One day at a time, one game at a time, the Eagles hope to keep building and remain in state title contention for years to come.
Wayne Christian hosts Halifax Academy in the NCISAA DII state championship game on Saturday at 5 p.m.