February 7, 2018 12:12:24 AM
STARKVILLE -- Brady Richardson couldn't take his eyes off it.
As one of the Starkville Academy football team's four captains, Richardson knew what his state championship ring was going to look like. Still, the anticipation of finally receiving another reward for a 13-1 season and the school's seventh state championship had gotten to Richardson. He wanted to touch the ring and feel it on his fingers. In a way, it was a way to re-live the sense of accomplishment that accompanied Starkville Academy's 21-14 victory against Indianola Academy on Nov. 19, 2017, at Jackson Academy.
"I can't stop looking at it," Richardson said. "It is awesome."
As one of four team captains, Richardson worked with Noah Methvin, William Wolfe, and Noah Smith and Starkville Academy football coach Chase Nicholson to design the rings. There is a variety of things on the rings, including the individual's name, the school's logo (Vols), record, team motto (Rise Up), an outline of the state of Mississippi and dots to signify the teams Starkville Academy beat in the playoffs (Park Place Christian Academy, Central Hinds Academy, Adams County Christian Academy, and Indianola Academy) as well as a dot for the location of Starkville, and score of one of the team's biggest wins (Vols 17, HA 14) on the inside of the ring.
Richardson said designing the ring was easy because everyone threw out ideas and produced a final product he feels is "pretty fantastic."
Methvin said he wanted "Rise Up" on the bottom of the ring because it was such an integral piece of the team's approach. He said he didn't know that Starkville Academy is the only school to have that included on the ring. Methvin agreed that the collection of all of the ideas came out "pretty sharp."
'That is kind of what defined us," Methvin said. "Our team motto every year is such a big deal. Like coach Nicholson was talking about each game being something different, it just meant a lot to us and we wanted to have it on the ring."
Richardson said having "Rise Up" on the bottom of the ring also serves as a reminder of the adversity the team had to go through to win the final 11 games of the season for a title. He acknowledged the players had to sell Nicholson on the idea of using "Rise Up" as the team motto. It turned out to be a fitting choice because the Volunteers rose up together throughout the season and relied on a unified approach to regroup from a loss to Indianola Academy in week three of the season.
"It was not just us saying it because it sounded good. It was because it worked," Nicholson said. "It made sense to us. It made sense on the season, and you have to have it on there. We wanted it on there but we didn't know where. When the guy came in and said we can put it on the bottom, we were sold."
Nicholson praised Balfour for doing a "great job" with the design of the ring and getting everything taken care of quickly. He said he and his captains slowly but surely "chipped away" at changing things to come up with the final product.
After keeping many of his players in suspense with a pre-ring ceremony speech, Nicholson handed out the bling to a rousing reception.
"I am very impressed," Richardson said. "I really like this ring. I really like it."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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