HAUGHTON, LA. - In the sleepy northwestern Louisiana town of Haughton, the pace is slow.
But at "Buc Stop" convenience store, which serves as Haughton's hub, the excitement is building.
"He's been all the discussion," said Haughton resident Keith Sandlin. "We talk about him just about everyday."
“He” is Dak Prescott; the first Cowboys rookie quarterback to start a season opener in 15 years. Haughton is where it all started. And Dak's debut has created a buzz.
Ken Dupre, another Haughton native, is convinced the Cowboys pulled off the steal of the draft.
"There's no question they got a diamond in the rough that pick," said Dupre.
The person who helped shape that so-called diamond is Margaret "Peggy" Prescott. She raised three boys -- Tad, Jace, and Dak -- after splitting with their father, at the Pine Creek Estates mobile home park in Princeton, La., right next to Haughton.
"She worked and worked and worked," said current Haughton head football coach Jason Brotherton. "She did all that work for those boys."
But she still found time to shuttle Dak to practice every day, instilling in him an uncommon work ethic.
"He leads by example," said Rodney Guin, head football coach at Haughton when Dak was there. "He's going to outwork you. Whether it's the weight room, on the field, in the film room prepping for the game, he's going to work.”
Jason Brotherton, Haughton's head coach now and an assistant when Dak was there, said Peggy Prescott was devoted, protective and demanding.
"Mom was tough on him,” Brotherton said with a chuckle. "That was her baby, but she was tough."
Mom's tough love helped Dak develop into what his coaches called the ideal quarterback.
Universally liked and successful. His junior and senior years, coaches say they didn't have to discipline the team, because Dad took care of it.
"He's a winner. People love him. People gravitate to him," said Brotherton. "He knows he's a leader. He grasps that and he's good at it."
During Prescott's freshman season at Mississippi state, Peggy was diagnosed with colon cancer, but she waited a couple months to tell Dak, not wanting it to be a distraction.
The disease ravaged her body. But her spirit, especially for Bulldog football, was undeterred.
In November 20-13, Peggy's battle ended. And in fitting Prescott fashion, Dak returned to his team just three days after his mother passed away.
"His mom would have said, ‘Get your butt back to practice and be ready to play,’" said Guin. "That's the type of person she was."
I met up with two of Dak's closest friends at a recent game in Haughton. Because he was so close to her, they say Dak is still coming to grips with life minus Mom.
"I think he learned how strong of a person he was, that he could persevere through anything," said Jeremy Hicks.
Prescott said that, before Sunday's start against the Giants, he'll text his mom, and take a moment to reflect.
He wears a blue bracelet constantly. It reads "Prescott Pride" with the No. 4 on it and this acronym. M.O.M. - a reminder of what Mom taught. Mind. Over. Matter.
"That's just the way I live," Prescott said. "M-O-M. That's kinda in the preparation I say expect things, I mean no matter what you're going through if you have your mind in the right situation the obstacles aren't anything to it."
Back in Haughton, Coach Guin put it all in perspective: "Mom is a happy Cowboys fan right now," he said. “She's proud of what he's done."
So, expect Rayne Dakota "Dak" Prescott to be as prepared as ever for his first Cowboys start, because that's what Mom would want.
Copyright 2016 WFAA