COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. — A lot has changed within the Comstock Park football program.
"Coming off of a 1-6 season, we knew we had to change a lot of things," said second-year head coach, Doug Samuels.
The team is off to a 6-0 start for the first time since 2013, when the team made the third of three consecutive trips to the state semifinals.
"It's changed at school, too, teachers are saying good job and that's a little new because we haven't won a lot recently," said senior quarterback Jackson Gates.
The confidence is building within the program but also within the Comstock Park community.
"Everyone is excited, every day going through school and people are talking about how we're 6-0 and winning games, a lot has changed," added senior lineman, Jon Watson.
Gates and several seniors remember when the Panthers program was dominant, less than one decade ago.
"It reminds me of when I was little," Gates smiled, "we used to all be water boys for the team and they went like 13-0 I think in like 2013, so it feels almost like that, we're being believed in more and hopefully the stands will be full this Friday."
Through six weeks of the season, the team has played just one home game but will play their final three games of the regular season at Panther Stadium, which has the players excited.
"It'll be nice to look up and see it full, all the grass area full, it should be standing room only really," Gates said.
This Friday night, the CP football team will continue to honor local heroes as they did in week four during that home game win over Godwin Heights.
The Panthers are led out onto the field for every home game by those local heroes, which are different for every contest.
"Going into this year, with last year being so unique, we decided we wanted to pay tribute to some of the CP heroes in our community," Samuels added.
All four Panther home games will be dedicated to a different group of people who gave it their all during the pandemic; from health care personnel, first responders, teachers, small business owners, and even parents.
"At the one home game we had COVID first responders, fire fighters and stuff like that," Watson added, "they were talking to us and hyping us up before the game."
Gates says the players love having the community leaders with them for the pregame.
"They're a reason why a lot of us are still here, they fought most during the pandemic and all that good stuff, it's nice to appreciate them and show them that we appreciate them."
It's a simple way to say 'thank you' to those that have, and continue, to give so much of themselves.
"I think something we don't do as the human race enough is show appreciation and tell people that you're grateful for what they do," Samuels said, "so if we're able to do that in a small way to have them lead us onto the field, I think that's something we should do and to be 6-0 and doing it, is really really special."
The Panthers will host Calvin Christian on Friday night at Panther Stadium looking to move to 7-0.