It’s indicative of Pine Bluff High School’s recent athletic success that John Tate received his third state championship ring on Tuesday night and Saturday morning he’ll play to earn his fourth.

It’s indicative of Pine Bluff High School’s recent athletic success that John Tate received his third state championship ring on Tuesday night and Saturday morning he’ll play to earn his fourth.


Tate and the other members of the 2015 Zebra football team received their championship rings during a banquet and ceremony at Pine Bluff Convention Center on Tuesday. Tate and the other members of the school’s boys basketball team will compete in the state title game against Parkview at 11 a.m. Saturday in Hot Springs.


One repeat complete; one repeat just days from possibly being realized.


"It’s what we’re supposed to do," Zebra coach and PBHS athletics director Bobby Bolding said. "We’re Pine Bluff. We have a rich tradition in all sports of competing at the highest level. That’s not coach speak, that’s just the way it is. That’s what we expect to do."


While Tuesday night was the final celebration for the on-field accomplishments of one of the greatest teams in school history — a team that went 13-0 en route to its second consecutive state title.


"Thank goodness it is (the last one)," Bolding said. "We’ve had a lot of celebrations. We’re really grateful for all of them, but it’s time to get back to work and get busy on trying to have another great year next year."


Despite being a time to reflect on football-related accomplishments, Tuesday’s ceremony was also a showcase for the talents the players have off the field.


Romar Reades started the fun with his impersonation of Bolding that he did the day before every game. Calvin Washington and Ladarius Skelton followed with a PG version of their daily back-and-forth during team stretches.


The crowning moment was the musical performance of Jaylen Fuller, Jordan O’Guinn and Kenneth Gatewood. The trio sang a rendition of Boyz II Men’s "It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday" that led to a standing ovation.


"It shows that we don’t only have football players," said Skelton, who along with Tate will face Parkview on Saturday. "(We have) talented, young men around the community that can do a lot of things."


Besides his singing, O’Guinn showcased his public speaking skills, addressing the crowd before introducing the seniors who received signed Zebra football helmets along with their rings. The Little Rock Touchdown Club’s 6A lineman of the year spoke about the difference between a team and a program.


"A team is strictly about football, but a program is about life," said O’Guinn, who is line to be the senior class valedictorian in May. "I believe each and every one of us has been taught priceless life lessons that are going to carry us on."


Tate and Malik Isiah also addressed the crowd.


"Don’t let this be the highlight of your life," Tate said. "Continue to graduate college, high school and just be the best you can be."


Bolding for his part thanked the community for helping raise the money for the rings, plus an additional $14,000 to put into a ring fund for future state championships.


"We’ve got a nice ring fund established now," he said. "Hopefully, we can do some other things along the way, where we don’t have to hit the community like we did this year. Raise a little here and there to put in that ring fund to keep it going."


Perhaps, the fund will need to be dipped into after Saturday’s game.


"Our boys basketball team, their rings are paid for," Bolding said to the crowd. "All they have to do is finish it Saturday."