In August 2018, the Southern Durham Spartans welcomed me to photograph their brotherhood. I documented their season: from the joyful moments to the lowest points where they had to regroup and be ready for the next challenge. During my time with this team, these young men taught me about resiliency. They were always up for the challenge, they never gave up on each other, and they always found a way to bounce back when games didn’t go their way.
Though the season didn’t end how they would’ve liked, they made sure to take advantage of all of the opportunities being part of this team offered.
Thank you to all the players and coaches for allowing me to be a part of the journey.
Southern Durham junior linebacker Jaki Brevard raises the team axe before the Spartan's game against Orange Highschool in Hillsborough, North Carolina. The team captain usually carries the axe before games.
Southern Spartan head coach Darius Robinson prays with his players before the team's game against Cardinal Gibbons. During a pre-game pep talk with his players, Head Coach Robinson asked his players if they knew why they prayed... "We pray before games because of all the sins we are about to commit on this field."
Southern Durham senior wide receiver Jaylen Lloyd watches on as the Spartans trail Cardinal Gibbons in the second game of the season. Lloyd would go on to have a productive season despite various injuries throughout.
Southern Durham head coach Darius Robinson addresses his team after a big win against the the No. 4 team, Seventy-First High School. The Spartans scored nine points in the final 78 seconds of the game to finish the upset, 36-32.
Southern Durham assistant coach Chris Smith celebrates with linebacker Jakhari Dowd (33) after a big play against Cardinal Gibbons High School. The Spartans had 18 coaches on staff this year, mostly comprised of past players that want to give back to their high school team.
Southern Spartans head coach Darius Robinson celebrates with his players after an upset win against the No. 4 team in the region, Seventy-First High School.
From left, Southern Durham players Curtis Justice, Deshawn Harris, and Zyon Johnson, celebrate an upset win against the No. 4 team in the region, Seventy-First High School.
Southern Durham sophomore quarterback Omari Smith works on his footwork by running up a hill during practice.
Hurricane Florence forced schools in the Triangle area to move up their Friday night games to Wednesday. This means that teams only had two days to prepare for their upcoming game.
Southern Durham players take a quick nap before their game. During home game days, players usually have a team meal and then hangout in head coach Robinson's room before the game.
Southern Durham players Lavar Houze (46) and Cinsere Clark (14) dance during the team's homecoming pep-rally at school.
Southern Durham football players relax before an away game. The Spartans usually stayed on the team bus until they had to start warming up. Many schools in the area did not have visitor locker rooms.
Southern Durham junior wide receiver Devin Smith carries the team speaker inside of the bus. Smith, one of the team's best players, was not playing due to injury but that did not stop him from starting the party before the game.
Southern Durham senior running back Kevin Pierce Jr. straps on his shoulder pads before the game.
Southern Durham junior wide receiver Devin Smith prays outside the locker room before the team's game against No. 4 Seventy-First.
Southern Durham senior wide receiver Jaylen Lloyd is consoled by senior running back Taron Beauford (1) and teammates after a tough loss.
Southern Durham football defensive coordinator Norris McCleary reviews the game-plan with his defense before the game. Coach McCleary, who played in the NFL for three seasons, now volunteers his time during the high school football season.
Southern Durham freshman kicker John Paulino warms up before the team's game against Southern Alamance. Despite being heavy favorites, the Spartans would go on to lose the game 29-7.
The Southern Durham Spartans play against Orange High School. The Spartans lost the game 27-17 and it ultimately cost them a spot in the playoffs. Despite Southern Durham (5-6) having a better record than Orange (3-8) at the end of the season, all three wins for Orange were inside the conference.
Teammates console senior linebacker Aaron James after a loss. James embraced his teammates saying "you all are my family, I love y'all."
Southern Durham senior captains walk to the center of the field for the coin toss. The Spartans won their second-to-last game against East Chapel Hill, 42-7.