'Play for J': North Laurel ring ceremony honors teammates late mother

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LAUREL COUNTY, Ky (WYMT) - A perfect 15-0 season and a state championship do not happen often.

"Well we went undefeated, a storybook season, 15-0," said Head Coach Joey McKnight.

"It was great we try to do it. Last year we got really close but messed up in the playoffs this year to come back and win it and go 15-0. It was perfect," said eighth-grader, Christian Larkey.

For the North Laurel Middle School football team, the wins, the trophies, and the drive-through ring ceremony have a bigger meaning.

“We had a little extra motivation from a player. We had a little accident in the season and kind of inspired all the guys to play for Jay,” said McKnight.

Last July, Jay Gillam's mom died in a car crash, during the crash Jay suffered season-ending injuries.

“He was still able to come to practice every day and watch all the games and cheer us on and it really kept the kids motivated and dedicate the season for him,” said McKnight.

The team decided to dedicate their season to him, with a "Play for J" motto engraved on the inside of the ring.

“Play for Jay was our slogan and we was able to put it all together and have a storybook ending,” added McKnight.

Showing us all that sports can help us get through tough times.