September 16, 2010 7:30:00 AM
When the Pickens Academy football team started the season with two losses, coach John Gartman still believed he had a good team.
The Pirates remained focused and earned their first victory of the season Friday by shutting out South Choctaw 27-0.
The win was Gartman''s first as a head coach after being the defensive coordinator at Macon-East Academy and Morgan Academy.
"It was relief," Gartman said. "The kids have worked hard. We''ve got a good football team. Even though we started 0-2 we played two pretty good football teams (Restoration and Springwood). We didn''t have any cupcakes to start out with. It was nice to finally get a win."
The Pirates (1-2, 0-2 region) will go for their second win in a row Friday night when they travel to Tuscaloosa Academy (0-3), which has lost to Morgan Academy, Southern Academy and Prattville Christian.
"They''re a pretty good team," Gartman said. "In a way they''re kind of like we are. They''ve had a tough opening stretch, but they''ve lost to good teams. They played all those teams pretty tough. They''re a good solid team."
Tuscaloosa Academy''s defensive coach is John Copeland, who was an All-American at the University of Alabama in 1992, and went on to play for the NFL''s Cincinnati Bengals.
Gartman hopes momentum from the victory against South Choctaw carries over into the game against Tuscaloosa Academy.
"Winning always gives you confidence," Gartman said. "It makes it more enjoyable. It''s a lot easier to come to practice and watch film and everything they have to do to get ready for a week when you''re coming off a win."
Gartman credited the players for helping him get his first win as a head coach.
"I thought we played harder Friday night than we have all year," Gartman said. "I think that says a lot about the character of the kids. We stepped up and fought through some adversity. We kept our composure and kept things on an even keel and came out and played hard."
1. Season opener at Columbus Speedway a success LOCAL SPORTS
2. Tennessee routs No. 3 Mississippi State COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Tennessee's win against MSU flips script LOCAL COLUMNS
5. Starkville Academy boys fall in state title game HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS