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TA football team receives championship rings

TUSCALOOSA | Tuscaloosa Academy student-athletes were honored in the past for winning championships, but Friday’s celebration was a first-time event.

The 2012 football team, coaches, auxiliary personnel and cheerleaders got rings as a reward for a perfect season. The Knights went 13-0 and won the AISA Class AAA championship for the first time.

"We really wanted to honor everybody that was involved," said Robert Johnson, the AISA Coach of the Year. "Obviously, you have the players and the parents, the coaches, athletic trainers, administration, team doctor, athletic director’s assistant, managers and cheerleaders.

"We had so many people that we just felt like we really wanted to get together and get that picture done and everybody get their rings."

The ring features the initials TA in blue on a football set on a blue stone. The rim is engraved with "State Champions." Players’ rings have their jersey number etched on a helmet, and one side has 13-0 set in an outline of the state.

Tuscaloosa Academy, which started the season with a victory over Lee-Scott Academy, finished it with a 27-26 win over the Warriors on Nov. 16.

"They loved each other, and they worked hard," Johnson said. "They met every challenge. It was a good group to coach, a fun group to coach. It was just a hard-working group of kids, but then they knew how to meet adversity head-on but still play to the standards that we asked them to play to."

Playing in Troy University’s Stadium, the Knights overcame a 20-13 deficit in the second half.

"I think we were a little nervous," Johnson said. "I think we made mistakes that we don’t normally make, and some of that, hats off to Lee-Scott.

Despite all the tough things, they were able to find a way to win. And that’s what great teams do. Great teams find a way to win even when it’s not their day."

In the championship game, Jaevon Walton ran for two touchdowns and recorded 10 tackles. Defensive lineman Terrell Bush scored on a 53-yard fumble return, and senior quarterback Jonathan Plott threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to senior Parker Farley. Clay Thomas led the Knights with 71 yards rushing.

"It’s a great feeling to have something like this to show for all the hard work that we put in," Plott said. "It’s pretty awesome being able to wear this, being able to go out and show all your friends what you did.

"It’s great to be part of the first one. It’s great to be here with all my best friends, being able to celebrate what we did on Nov. 16."

When Lee-Scott Academy scored its last touchdown, Kyle Andrews blocked the extra-point attempt to preserve the lead. Senior linebacker JD Diaz made his first career interception to stop Lee-Scott Academy’s last possession, and the Knights ran out the clock.

"I guess I knew it would come, but it’s sweeter than I thought it would be," said Andrews, a senior defensive end. "It feels good just knowing that we were the first team to do it. It means a lot that all the parents came out. They supported us all year."

During the ceremony, souvenir footballs were presented to Trisha White and Elizabeth McGiffert. White was introduced as a "TA football mom." McGiffert is the school board president.

"The ring and the picture we be lasting memorabilia that they’ll always have," Johnson said. "People talk more about getting the rings now than they talk about getting trophies. Everybody says, ‘You’re going to get that ring.’ Just to finally have that on their hand is something they’ll always remember."


Reach Andrew Carroll at or at 205-722-0223.