Victors receive their spoils

May 23—Kayden McGee said he was taking his ring to college for inspiration.

McGee, who heads to University of Nevada-Las Vegas in the fall, along with the rest of the Muskogee High School football team were awarded their 2023 Class 6A Division II State Championship rings Tuesday in a ceremony at Rougher Village.

"I'm speechless, this is awesome," McGee said. "Anytime I'm down, I can look at this ring and get myself back up. It will remind me of how hard we worked to achieve what we did."

Prior to presenting the rings to the players, head coach Travis Hill read a list of accomplishments of the players including All-State honors for Vernon Pepiakitah and McGee and Jamarian Ficklin being named Vype Magazine's Mr. Football.

Hill said the ring is a trophy that the players will have the rest of their lives.

"When we look at the American culture, you look at the ring and it represents a's special," he said. "They understand, they know that, it's motivating. When I go home and relax in my 'man cave,' I just smile remembering seeing my kids smile."

Pepiakitah, who is headed to the same place won his ring at — University of Central Oklahoma, said the ring is "everything he thought it would be...and more."

"I don't know yet if I'm taking it with me or leaving it here," he said. "It might serve as inspiration — a trophy for everything I've done here. I might keep it safe somewhere."

Most of the players when they opened the box for the first time were breathless and at a loss for words.

Most of the family in attendance were as overcome with emotions.

Chris Green, who played for the Roughers and whose son Jack got his ring, fought back tears thinking about people who were not there to see his son rewarded.

"If anybody's going to get (ring), I would want my one of my boys," he said. "My dad would have loved to see it. My mom got to see it."

Each player and trainer in attendance was introduced to the audience individually as they stepped onto the stage to receive their rings. They also received a complimentary copy of the state championship magazine produced by the Phoenix.

After receiving their hardware, they walked over and showed the jewelry to the assistant coaches then gathered in the lobby for pictures with teammates and family.