Today, they’ll be even more excited about the NFL action than normal, as one of their own will be making his pro debut.
Shawn Powell, the former Darlington standout and Florida State All-American punter, is scheduled to make his pro debut for the Buffalo Bills when they host the New England Patriots.
There is sure to be an extra bit excitement all around Rome, and especially in the Darlington community.
“It’s tremendously exciting for us,” said Darlington football coach Tommy Atha. “We’ve been very excited since he signed initially after graduating from Florida State, and kept up with him all the way through camp and through that final cut.”
Powell signed with the Bills as a non-drafted free agent after the draft, and went through the entire camp with Buffalo. Powell saw action in each of the Bills four preseason games, but when final cuts were made, the Bills decided to stick with 12-year veteran Brian Moorman.
But this past Tuesday, the Bills cut Moorman, and brought in Powell to take over the punting duties.
“He always remained positive and confident that he was going to be picked up somewhere and we were too,” said Atha. “When he finally got that call, we were certainly very excited.”
Playing in the NFL has been the dream for Powell, and he’ll achieve it when he gets that first snap back from the long snapper and shows the power his leg has, and why the Bills signed him.
“Shawn’s always risen to the occasion and never been rattled in pressure situations,” said Atha. “I think he’s going to step in and boom it 60 yards.”
Not only will Powell be achieving his dream of playing in the NFL, but reaching the NFL will also grant him another honor — the retirement of his high school jersey.
“This will be the first opportunity we’ll have to retire a jersey,” said Atha. “I’ve said all along that my requirements for retiring a jersey is to be under contract in the league and play in a regular-season game in the NFL.
“Obviously that’s not the biggest thing on his mind, but it is something he and I have talked about,” added Atha.
There’s only one problem with that. Powell wore No. 10 in high school, and current quarterback Brad Butler wears that jersey now.
“I’ve been giving Brad a hard time and telling him he’s going to have to take the No. 10 off,” added Atha with a laugh. “Shawn and I have laughed about that, and even Shawn has told Brad that he would let him finish the year out.”