The 1965 Trinity High School football team received rings Thursday, 48 years after winning the state championship.
Trinity was an all-black high school that was separated from the Decatur High School by a 15-foot granite wall.
The football team went undefeated in 1965, rolling into the championship game against Tifton High School.
Willie Armstead, known to his teammates as "Clank," said Tifton was "the biggest, the strongest, considered to
be the most talented football team in the state of Georgia."
Trinity rode the bus from Decatur to
Tifton, where Armstead said the Ku Klux Klan stopped their bus to warn them.
"'If you boys beat our boys, you will never see the light of day,'" Armstead says they said.
Trinity, down 14-0, had the ball in the first quarter when Armstead's mother sent the team a message.
"My mother stopped in the in the end zone and she just crossed her arms and sat there patting her foot," he said.
Trinity scored a touchdown on that series and went on to win the game.
"We looked at each other and said to ourselves, 'If we're gonna die, we'll die as "champions.'"
Trinity was a poor school and could not afford championship rings.
In 1968, Trinity merged with Decatur High School. This year, its athletic director decided to present the '65 team with championship rings.
"I've talked to all of my teammates, all of my coaches, teammates that's still around," said Armstead. "It's like a kid experiencing Christmas."
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.