CLOSE

Union County’s new head coach Larry Kerr speaks about his team’s win for the first time in 27 games at practice Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017.

MAYNARDSVILLE – Larry Kerr did something most coaches and athletes shy away from: he made a guarantee.

Back in January, the new Union County football coach stood in front of students who weren’t on his team yet and said they would win a game in the beginning of this season. The Patriots had lost 26 straight games, the longest active losing streak in Tennessee, so that wasn’t a safe guarantee.

But he was right. The Patriots lost their first outing of the season, extending the streak to 27, but beat Cosby 6-3 on Friday to kill it.

That meeting in the cafeteria got Alex Padgett to join the team as a sophomore. Kerr told students he wanted them to be part of the rebirth and Padgett got on board.

“He inspired me to play,” the lineman said. “He said he’d change it. He has everyone pumped up this year. He’s really changed our state of mind.”

Padgett is one of more than 30 underclassmen on the team of about 50. The Patriots have four seniors and only one, guard and defensive end Andrew Kitts, has played all four years.

Kerr retired in 2009, after building a reputation as one of the state’s top coaches over 37 years at Lake City, Halls and Anderson County. Golfing wasn’t enough anymore and he wanted a challenge. Enter the Patriots.

“This is the toughest job I’ve ever…