Home on leave. Joseph Saldana, who, having completed high school in the first semester, left town for the Marine Corps shortly after the state championship game, shows off his ring.
It took the Booneville Bearcats almost five hours from kickoff to game ending pickoff to complete a state championship season so they are used to waiting and persevering.
Getting the ring to commemorate the 15-0 title season would be another exercise in patience that lasted for days.
Players waited through dinner, a 25-minute highlight video of the season that prompted one of several standing ovations and a talk by head coach Scott Hyatt in which he admitted he was drawing it out as long as possible.
Hyatt told stories of opposing coaches being won over by the brute strength of Booneville players – a point not lost on the day the Bearcats made it back-to-back Class 4A state champions in power lifting.
That was after having received the rings on Tuesday only to once survive a tease that he had his out but wouldn’t let players have theirs, and later play a prank on the players by giving them their ring box — but empty.
But the wait finally ended just before 9 p.m., when, in unison, players were told to open their boxes, creating a flashpoint that extended across the front of the stage.
Countless photos of the rings with sparkles encrusted with a large purple number 1 and the words State and Champions soon bombarded social media sites.
Earlier in the night a live auction of signed footballs and other memorabilia from the state championship season raised $2600, which Hyatt said would essentially complete the amount necessary to pay for the rings.