JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville City Council honored the Raines High School football team after its recent state championship.
The players representing the Vikings were all smiles at Tuesday evening's City Council meeting. They were excited, and said it's a blessing to have been able to bring such pride and happiness to the city with their win.
They received a standing ovation from council members and observers in recognition of the Raines football team's 27-13 over Cocoa to win the 4A title, earning back-to-back titles and the school's third state football championship.
"It's a blessing and it's amazing to be here," said senior defensive end and fullback James Hall. "To do it back-to-back and bring something special to the city, it's just a blessing."
Hall and fellow senior Jaren Wilson joined their head football coach, Deran Wiley, to accept the city's resolution for the team, honoring Duval County's first public school to repeat as state champions.
"When they reach my age, it will still be something they'll still be soaking in," Wiley said. "It's the first time that it has been done, and you get to share the moment with some special guys and coaches."
Raines' commendation comes on the heels of another celebration on Dec. 19. During a pep rally at City Hall, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry touted the team and gave Wiley a key to the city. The pep rally also recognized the Mandarin High School football team for its state championship. Mandarin beat Columbus 37-35 to win the 8A title -- the Mustangs' first-ever state football championship.
City Councilman Terrance Freeman, who represents District 10, said at Tuesday's City Council meeting that the Raines football team's back-to-back titles is proof of the players' work in the classroom, as well as on the field.
"We know how hard they work, coach, and for them to finish two years in a row as the state champions is a testament to your leadership and a testament to their commitment," Freeman said.
Hall said he's joining the Army and through the military, he wants to attend Florida A&M University, majoring in business.
Wilson wants to bring a national college football champion home to Jacksonville, as he will be attending Edward Waters College.