113 Years and the Coronavirus Pandemic stood between the 2019 Somerset High School football team from being awarded the program's first-ever state championship rings. On Sunday, May 31, the Briar Jumpers football program finally got to present their players and staff with their state championship rings.
In a 'COVID-19 social distancing' modified ceremony, a group of 56 Somerset High School football players entered the Jim Williams Field House one-by-one to receive their individual championship rings.And each individual player were by their friends and family on William Clark Field for pictures with their newly adorned bling.
"This had been a longtime coming and we had to wait a little longer," Somerset head football coach Robbie Lucas stated. "This was a really good group. They complimented each other, had no egos, and had a "I want to Win' type attitude."
"The administration, parents and the community really supported this team all the way through," Lucas stated. "First Baptist Church, a lot of businesses donated their time and money, and fed our kids. I hope the community shares in this celebration too."
As each of the 56 Briar Jumpers football players walked out of the football fieldhouse, they were all smiling from ear-to-ear, with their right-hand fist extended out displaying their new state championship jewelry.
"Getting the ring brings the season back into my mind and what all we went through to get that," Somerset junior receiver Kade Grundy stated. "It's awesome, and I will be wearing it often, but my dad says he's gonna wear it around too."
For Somerset junior center Drew Johnson, the ring presentation was like having Christmas in May.
"It was a honor to receive the first State Championship ring, and it was like waking up on Christmas morning," Johnson stated. " I plan to put the ring up for safe keeping unless there's a special occasion."
The ring featured 6 large diamonds and 19 smaller diamonds encrusted around a large purple 'S'. The six large diamonds represented Somerset sic state final appearances, and the 19 represented the number of regional titles won by the Briar Jumpers' football program. The team's motto, Long Live the Brotherhood, was inscribed inside the ring.
"The kids were extremely happy and excited when they received their rings and they all had big smiles," Lucas said. "The rings were a little bigger than I thought and they were a little heavy. Some people may say they are gawdy, but man they were awesome. I am so proud of these kids and our staff, and what a great way for them to celebrate with a ring like that."
We placed those diamonds on the ring to pay homage to those great teams of our past, and without those guys and our foundation, we weren't anything without them," Lucas explained.
The 2019 Somerset High School football team was blessed with 24 seniors, and it meant a lot for their coach to get to see each one of those senior one more time before they went their separate ways in life.
"It was really nice to see them all back together again," Lucas stated. "This was an historic season that we didn't really get to put and cap on with no banquet. It was really tough to say goodbye to our 24 seniors, because they meant a lot to this program."
For Briar Jumper senior Jase Bruner, the ring represented way more than just a state title.
"It was amazing, and something that means more to the school and community than just one person," Bruner stated. "This ring will remind of my brothers... everything we worked for and everything we accomplished. We basically started and finished together. So many of us started right here at age 6 in the LCYFL, which is now the Somerset Youth Football League. We grew up together playing football. It's awesome."
Somerset senior Andrew Childers suffered a few injuries along his sports career at Somerset High School, and he was dealt the final blow this spring with the cancellation of his senior baseball season. But placing that ring on his finger made up for all the bad things along the way.
"It's absolutely crazy," Childers exclaimed. "Makes every break, surgery, argument and hardship worth it. To win a state title with this team, for this school, and the community is absolutely a treasure. It definitely makes missing senior baseball season a little bit easier."
The only person in the Briar Jumper football that didn't put on their ring was their leader Robbie Lucas.
"I really haven't even worn it yet, to be host with you, and it is still in the box it came in," Lucas admitted. "I know this might sound corny, but I am just a small part of what goes on here. I am the caretaker of this place right now and, sooner or later, I will turn it over to somebody else and Somerset football will go on."
"My ring didn't make me giddy or anything," Lucas stated. "The thing that made me giddy was watching the kids get these rings, and watching the longtime supporters of this program, former players, former coaches, administrators and teachers share in this celebration. That, personally, brought the most joy to me."
STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @CJSportseditor.