(WMC-TV) – The Whitehaven High School football team made a triumphant return home with a 6A Championship trophy.
It is the cherry on top for the community on the verge of rebirth.
The new Tennessee football champs returned to a heroes' welcome Sunday evening.
Yvette Brooks is a Whitehaven High School alum. She is proud of the team, the school, and the community.
"This is something that has been going on under the radar for years. We strive for excellence in everything that we do here in Whitehaven," said Brooks.
The Whitehaven Tigers beat the Maryville team in dramatic fashion during the Bluecross Bowl Class 6A title game.
Maryville won the title the previous two years and came into this gridiron battle with a 43-game winning streak.
Ole Miss commit Mark Dodson strolled in untouched for the game winning conversion for the Tigers following a touchdown in overtime.
"We went out there, it was a dogfight, we never gave up. I'd like to thank my offensive line. They played their hearts out. It was massive aggression from start to finish and we came out victorious," said Dodson.
Coach Rodney Saulsberry says the team's win proves hard work and resilience can pay off.
"Oh, it's lovely. And that's what we do it for. I told them, 'Let's use this as a platform for our community.' Talking to Mayor Wharton, just told him, we want to revitalize Whitehaven and this is one spark to do that. We want our community to just be the greatest community in the city of Memphis," said Saulsberry.
Memphis Mayor A C Wharton was also at the celebration. He said what he sees happening in the Whitehaven community motivates him.
"You know, we hear so much about kids gone wrong. I mean, you walk the halls of that school and look at those high test scores. Then you see they're going all the way to the top on the field. Nice clean, young men, right out of the core of the city. It just makes you wanna work that much harder," said Wharton.
Whitehaven won its first state championship with a final score of 36 to 35 in overtime.