Plymouth Rockies football coach John Barron couldn't have asked for a better birthday present.
On Friday, Plymouth superintendent Dan Tyree announced that the football program's unofficial post touchdown anthem, Rocky Top, will be returning for this season.
Tyree banned the playing of the song during the 2013 season due to its references to moonshine. The song has been after touchdown for the better part of two decades.
"It's a great day," Rockies coach John Barron says. "A lot of kids are smiling, a lot of parents are smiling."
Students protested over the last year. Basketball standout Mack Mercer started a petition that received more than 600 signatures. There was even an essay written by some students describing what the song means to the team and community.
While Plymouth is known as the Pilgrims in all its other sports, they are known as "The Rockies" in football. Their football stadium is known as the rockpile. So it has just made to play a song called "Rocky Top."
"It's a great feeling having it back," Plymouth senior offensive tackle Jacob Lafree says. "It's been playing for years and years. It's just a sense of tradition this program has had over the years."
The biggest protest from the students came at the games themselves as they sang the song a Capella.
"I got a text today that Rocky Top is back and I was just like 'wow.' I can't believe," senior center Kevin Escobar adds. "I'm just so happy. I can't wait to be on the sidelines celebrating after every touchdown."
Barron met with Tyree for a few hours on Thursday and they were able to come to an agreement to allow the song return. The band will now play it as an instrumental only. Barron credits Tyree and school principal Jim Condon for being willing to compromise and resolve the issue before the season starts.
"We put out some fires," Barron explains.
Now Barron believes the program, school and community can move forward united.
"It's not going to help us win football games but if you go to Dunlap and you ask Tim Dawson if he's happy about it, I know he's told me many times that he hates that song and I know a lot of other coaches that say they hate that song but its all in good fun," Barron says with a big laugh. "They hate it because we scored a touchdown. It is an annoying song. There's no doubt about it. But we love it."
Plymouth begins fall camp on Monday. The season opener is August 22nd against Bremen at the Rock Pile. Rocky Top will be playing strong (assuming the Rockies score some touchdowns).