It was Aug. 27, 2009, and Wellborn was opening the season against Saks. Wellborn had a new coach in Jeff Smith, and Goodman was an eighth-grader getting ready to begin his varsity career. He also happened to be starting at wingback.
“I was as nervous as I don’t even know what,” Goodman said. “When (Smith) first told me he was moving me up to varsity, it hit me. I had to think about it for a minute. I never expected to play varsity.”
Goodman hasn't left the starting lineup since then.
When the Panthers take the field Friday night at Red Bay for a Class 2A playoff game, it will mark the 57th straight game he has started for Wellborn, sometimes fighting through injuries to stay on the field and help his team.
“He started all these football games, but that doesn’t mean he’s been healthy all these games,” Smith said. “He’s been banged up, hurt, bruised, all kinds of stuff. But he’s came and worked for us.”
Goodman has remained healthy this year as a senior. Playing wingback and tailback, he has rushed for 829 yards and 14 touchdowns on 122 carries.
The same thing that earned Goodman the starting spot as a middle schooler is what has gotten him through all of his injuries -- his work ethic.
Smith said Goodman always has worked hard at practice, earned everything he has, and done everything his coaches have asked him to do.
“Chantz’s work ethic is unmatched. He outworks everybody,” Smith said. “Chantz Goodman is a very high-character kid, very hard worker, very coachable. I’d put Chantz in the top five kids I’ve ever coached.”
Goodman’s work ethic shined bright in 2010, when he refused to sit out against Clay County in a Class 3A, Region 3 battle in Week 7. Despite being only a freshman, Goodman helped keep Wellborn in the game, although Clay County won 13-12.
“Sitting out wasn’t an option to him,” Smith said. “Last year around the middle of the season he had all kinds of fluid on his knee and had to get it drained twice. But he didn’t miss a down.”
Goodman’s pride in being a Panther also has kept him in every game over the past five seasons.
“Being able to be able to start on the football team and helping the school do great things in these football games, it’s a great feeling,” he said. “It’s great to know that if anyone is having any problems we can help out and having little kids saying they look up to you. It’s a great feeling.”
This week, Goodman will play in the state playoffs for the fifth straight year. Because he is a senior, it will be his last playoff trip, and the question is how long it will last.
Goodman said Wellborn needs to work harder than it has all season this week, adding “you’ve got to give it 100 percent every day now.”
“My eighth-grade year I didn’t expect this day to come some quick. It’s already here,” Goodman said. “With it being my senior year, you’ve got to ball out. Now that it’s playoff time now, if you lose, it’s over with — high school football is done.
“We’re at the point now that we can’t take anything light, even blocking a certain way. You can’t let one thing slip up because one slip up and it’s over.”
Brandon Miller covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575 or follow him on Twitter @bmiller_star