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The Yates kids went on spring break, and when they returned, two months of events had been planned to honor and celebrate the team. The players had to show up at a Third Ward grocery store on a Saturday, and signed autographs for two hours. A rally at City Hall and a parade through the Third Ward were also scheduled.
The celebration started with another pep rally at the high school at the end of March. Bun B of UGK made an appearance, and the Yates Crimson Chorale performed a song, "G-O Wise," written for the coach.
Now that Wise is losing most of his players to graduation, he moves on with an untested group. Of the three underclassmen on varsity, only sophomore Clyde Santee saw any significant playing time in the playoffs. In the state championship game, for example, Santee played six minutes. Junior Trey Dickerson played one.
"Our sub-varsity team is doing well, and they're learning our system, so we can keep building the program and be successful year in and year out," Wise says. "But this team did things that no one in the country was doing, that no team has ever done. This team was special."
Like the hallways in the school, the outside of Yates is bleak. Besides a flagpole, a small bed of flowers and a lion statue in a rusted cage, there isn't much. The new hand-painted sign that's been planted almost looks gaudy.
"National Champions 2009–2010," the sign reads. "Jack Yates Lions. Let the tradition live on."