The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
Jim Clayton, Quill Reporter
Americans are collectors. We collect baseball cards, we save love notes, we have boxes full of pictures, many of us have ticket stubs from ball games or concerts.
Usually the things we collect are reminders of some past meaningful event that we never want to forget.
There is another memento that most of us have had experience with, a ring. Not the ring in the bathtub, or ring-around-the-rosy, but a ring we wear on our finger.
There are baby rings, class rings, engagement rings that eventually lead to wedding rings.
The events represented by rings are not ones we usually forget, but the rings remind us, and more often others, of what our life has wrought at a given time.
The Illini-West Chargers 3-A state champion football team collected rings on Friday, February 20 in the school gym. Coach Unruh presented the players with their new rings in front of the entire school.
The players were called in alphabetical order so as not to put one player over another and to demonstrate that it was a team effort that won the title.
Tim Yex, junior defensive lineman and last in line, had this to say, "The ring is my memory of the season. I have always wanted to win a state championship, now we have and this will be my reminder."
Although Yex did not actually get his ring due to an order processing issue, the moment was still very special for him,
The Schmudlach family hit the trifecta with three players from the same family getting rings.
Junior, Jacob, who caught the winning touchdown pass in the state championship game at Champaign said, "I couldn't wait to get it my finger, so I could show everyone. I know I couldn't have caught that pass while wearing my ring, but it will always be a reminder of that moment."
Twin brothers Drake and Zane Schmudlach were very excited at the possibility of having two more chances to do this again, Zane, sophomore back-up QB said, in response to getting his ring, "I want another one!"
Drake, sophomore running back, added, "It felt good to get a championship as a sophomore and that means we have two more shots to get another one."
At 6' 5" and 300 pounds, senior lineman Luke Burling was like a kid at Christmas, albeit a very big kid, "I could hardly sit there and wait, I wanted to rush up and grab mine because I was so excited," Burling said following his last regular season basketball game in which he scored a career high ten points. "Coach has always treated us like men, and not like little kids, and I think we rose to the occasion," added Burling.
Kyle Hartzell, senior lineman, said, "This is an amazing accomplishment, and shows what can be accomplished with hard work, dedication and commitment."
Brian Lafferty sophomore offensive lineman and brother of starting QB Michael Lafferty, has a good perspective, "I know I only played when we were pretty far ahead, but this is pretty special, it is all about the team and the championship, but this will be a reminder of some good memories for me," he said.
Senior stand out and lineman, Ross Hutson, who will be playing football at Quincy University next fall, looks at it this way, "This represents six years of hard work for me, I have been thinking about winning a state championship at least since 6th grade. I know there are going to be things in my future that are much more important than this, like a wife and a family and a job, but right now, this is the biggest thing that has ever happened to me, so far it ranks number one."
Erma Bombeck once said, "Onion Rings in car cushions do not improve with time." But, the memories represented by the rings these young men received, will most definitely improve with age.