By Craig BrownA special Dinner and Ring Ceremony was held at the Dillon Wellness Center on Monday night for the Dillon Wildcats football team to commemorate their state title win. The Wildcats won the 2012 State Football Championship, finishing with a 13-1 record.
My good friend Sheila Ayres welcomed me inside and I began to mingle with the well-dressed guests inside and later Coach Jackie Hayes stopped by and shook my hand. I asked the coach where I was to be seated and he pointed out a section marked reserved for the media.
As I walked over to my seating arrangement I met a very interesting person, Thomas L. “Dusty” Rhodes, Jr. Dusty represented Jostens and is a personal friend of Coach Hayes. Jostens has made past rings for Dillon High School as well as other high school teams and in fact, 85% of all NFL Super Bowl rings have been made by Jostens. This year the Wildcats were getting their rings from the same craftsmen making the rings for the world Champion Baltimore Ravens. I say that is pretty good company.
The personalized rings have the players name and number on the outside of the ring and their initials inside the ring. I personally like the design of this ring over those presented to past championship teams.
Superintendent Ray Rogers welcomed all guests and introduced members of the District 4 School Board and then the Dillon County School Board. Rogers recognized the Dillon City Council and the Dillon County Council. Rogers thanked members of the TV media and The Dillon Herald for all of their contributions to the school teams.
Rogers introduced Coach Gerald Reaves, a true man of God, to pray for the event and bless the meal.
Tim Faulk had been working franticly to get the four isle buffet into place so Coach Hayes took the opportunity to thank all of those that made this event possible and helped throughout the season in other ways. Coach Hayes gave a special thanks to Jimmy Sweat, Jr., Kathryn Thompson, Jean Reaves, Susan Shuttleworth, Lynda Cottingham, Meredith Page, Keith Newell, Dillon Four Maintenance, Sheila Ayres and Mandy Hayes. Long hours and dedication were needed to put such an event together and these people did a magnificent job.
There were so many people involved in this year’s event that space would not permit all of these names along with their job titles to be mentioned but I assure you that Coach Hayes missed no one. Two of my personal favorites are Jerry Douglas and his friend Hub Oxendine for their terrific fireworks displays. Sometimes they use some powerful stuff and I often wonder if I am going to see them flying over the fence onto the field resembling a roman candle. Martha “Mott” German and Maurice Bethea are two loyal and dedicated sideline workers and everybody knows Lonnie Turner, Jimmy Bohachic, and Charles Lane for their entertaining and dedicated work in the announcer’s booth. Again there are so many other loyal workers that make the Wildcats roll and roar.
Tim Faulk finally signaled that dinner was ready. Faulk had thought this situation over and had four smooth running buffet lines and required less than half the time to serve all of the guests in attendance as did past events. The dinner was sponsored by the Dillon City and County Councils and Mr. Richard Davis of Columbia.
As the guests were finishing their dinner, a well put together video was presented by Coach Jamie Norris and Lynda Cottingham representing the 2012 season. The guests saw numerous bone jarring tackles, kicks run back, great scoring runs coming out of the backfield, one-handed pass receptions and on the money passes from quarterbacks Thomas Grossetti and Avery McCall.Coach Hayes noted that the Wildcats were the number one ranked offense in division 2A and the topped ranked defense unit in all divisions in the state outclassing 3A and 4A schools. The Wildcats also had three players sign with Division 1A schools, with Bashir “Jabo” Lee signing with Tennessee and Bryce King and D.J. Parks signing with the University of South Carolina. Six other underclassmen have already received offers from 1A schools.
County Council Chairman Archie Scott and Dillon Mayor Todd Davis each presented Coach Hayes with a plaque recognizing the Wildcats’ achievement, and then the big moment finally came as Coach Hayes presented the first ring to Principal Shawn Johnson. Coach Hayes placed a specially made brooch around his wife Mandy’s neck. The Dillon cheerleaders and cheerleading coaches were also presented their beautiful brooch. Finally 57 happy faces bashfully walked onto the stage to receive their rings one at a time and then pose for a photo.
Lastly, the coaches were presented their rings. Coach Hayes described each player by attitude, playing style, and work efforts as he gave them their rings. Assistant Athletic Director Robbie Brown was on stage with Coach Hayes to assist in this joyful but tiring ordeal. Coach Jason Gunter closed the event in prayer and many young men and women had the look of Christmas morning on their face as they exited the Wellness Center with promises to be back next year.