PARADISE, Calif. (KTXL) — “One team. One school. One town.”
That was the slogan the Paradise High School Bobcats took with them during their 12-1 season this past fall.
It was a season that began following California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire. The Camp Fire’s devastation directly impacted everyone associated with the football program.
“As we all looked back, and we talked about it quite a bit, it gave us something to focus on so we didn’t just dwell on, ‘Oh, we just lost everything.’ But it really gave us something to work at together,” said Rick Prinz, the head coach of Paradise High School’s football team.
Prinz said he knew football could not just be a distraction. He had to lead by example.
“Here’s the key for us: It got us to be able to focus on something else too,” he told FOX40. “We were able, when we got there, to really be focused and enjoy it maybe more than any other year and appreciate it. When you lose almost everything you have and you never know if you’re going to get it back, you really appreciate it when you get it back.”
This week, Prinz was awarded the California Coaches Association’s football coach of the year.
“Just really humbled by it and I’m very thankful,” Prinz said. “I coach with a lot of great guys that worked hard and the players that worked so hard to get here that it’s really a great honor and I appreciate it.”
And just when Paradise was recovering from the Camp Fire now comes the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re still reeling a little bit from the fire, so this sets you back and makes you wonder. But on the other hand, we’re used to not really knowing what’s going to happen tomorrow and that’s kind of the question mark with this virus,” Prinz said. “It’s just like one more thing — here we go — and we’ll be stronger because of it. We just got to move forward.”
The coach told FOX40 as soon as the stay-at-home order is lifted, he and his team will be back on the field getting ready for next season.