ST. LOUIS — Coming off their first football state championship in program history, the Ladue Rams' senior captains didn't want to let the Missouri Class 4 State Championship trophy out of their site.
To celebrate their historic win last weekend over in-town rival MICDS, the Rams took the trophy to all the schools in the district this week.
“Getting so close and finally winning it this year, it was the perfect way to end your high school career," said Jason Garland, a senior wide receiver and safety.
The Rams were happy to get the big semi-final win at Webb City this year, a team they lost the state final to last year. But revenge was only as sweet as their friendship they have developed off the field.
“We’ve had a great chemistry," said senior running back Andrew Hunt. "We’ve been playing together for four or five, or some of us, longer years.”
But the players are just as thankful for their coaching staff led by head coach Mike Tarpey.
“It’s not just about us," said Moses Okpala, a senior lineman. "It’s about the coaches and the time they put into making us be successful.”
“Relationships are a thing he preaches a lot," said Garland. "And he puts in so much time and effort and it’s great to see that effort finally pay off.”
Tarpey has been with the rams for 18 years.
“It’s really neat to see when kids celebrate each other," said the head coach.
There's no question this year's senior class will forever have a special place in his heart.
“We’re gonna miss them. Not just their ability to play but their personalities and what they bring," he said.
“The legacy isn’t about the record you leave, obviously this will be noted because it’s the first state championship in school history, but it’s also about how you treated people and how you treated your teammates.”
Tarpey also told a short story about how his players separated themselves after each practice.
“One of the coolest things about the end of our practices is that a lot of the kids come up and just generally come up and shake your hand and say ‘thanks.’ At the end of every practice," said Tarpey.
"11 strong." That was the team's motto all season long. And that's how they want to be remembered.
“The way we stick together. The way we lift each other up," said Hunt.
“Everyone came together with an equal goal. We want to be successful. We don’t want things for ourselves. We don’t want to be selfish," said Okpala.
“When you win championships it’s not because it’s not a mistake. People who win championships are not surprised to win championships. They know the hard work they put in.”