I'm not the type of person who likes to hand out awards and accomplishments before they've been earned and I fully realize the Missouri state football high school finals won't happen until Friday. However, I'd like to make the argument that the Hannibal Pirate football team are already champions. I'll explain.

Full disclosure: I am a proud 1984 graduate of Hannibal High School. I played football my freshman and sophomore years before I became more interested in tennis and this crazy thing called radio in 1983.

While I was only a minor player back in those days, I was a witness to greatness. The 1981 Pirate team that completed a remarkable undefeated season. I also remember growing up in Hannibal in the 1970's and seeing epic players like Brad Griffie, Scott Rampy and numerous others. More recently, there was the Hannibal Pirate team in 2006 that made the state finals.

Why do I believe we should crown this year's Pirate team champions? This 2021 squad has accomplished something I've never seen before. They have brought our community together in ways I've never witnessed. I'll give you some specific examples. My friend, Blane Mundle (also a former Pirate great), has shared numerous examples of businesses that are stepping up to support this team and school.

My cousin, Michael Holliday, shared the news right after the semi-final win over North County that the school district was making Friday, December 3 a no-school day so students could support the team in Columbia.

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I've seen so many friends I graduated with flooding Facebook with pics in support of the "Once a Pirate, Always a Pirate" campaign. This Hannibal Pirate football team has accomplished so much already, the lighthouse even turned red.

Is there a game to play at Faurot Field in Columbia Friday starting at 11am? Yes, there is. Do I believe we should honor the Hannibal Pirate football team as champions no matter the outcome? Yes, I do.

However, I'd like to add one more note directly to the members of this great Pirate team. I'll quote Adrian from Rocky II when I say..."WIN".

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