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Christmas will have a championship ring to it for the Hellyers

December 8, 2017 FieldsColumn

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The Hellyer brothers, left to right, Clint, Clete, Cole and Clay were a happy group after Boyle County’s semifinal victory over Elizabethtown. The brothers have been part of 8 state championship teams at Boyle County.

BY MIKE FIELDS

The Brothers Hellyer of Boyle County will have a big time talking smack and patting each other on the back when their family gathers for Christmas in a couple weeks.

And the youngest of the Hellyer boys, Clete, will no doubt be in the middle of it all now that he’s joined his brothers’ championship club.

When Boyle County beat Corbin in the Class 3A football finals last week, it capped an incredible run of eight (!) state titles for the Hellyer family.

Clay Hellyer, a wide receiver/defensive back, was part of Chuck Smith’s championship teams in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

Cole Hellyer, an offensive lineman, helped Larry French’s Rebels win titles as a junior and senior in 2009 and 2010.  

Clint Hellyer, a wide receiver/defensive back, was a freshman and sophomore on those same championship teams.

Clete Hellyer, a defensive lineman/linebacker, finally got his turn to celebrate a state title in this his senior year when Boyle County whipped Corbin 40-21 at UK’s Kroger Field last Friday night.

“I was ecstatic; it was awesome,” he said. “It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life, to say I have a ring now, and that I put in the work and time, and it all paid off.”

Cliff Hellyer

For Cliff Hellyer, having his four sons be part of so many state championships at Boyle County is almost too much to comprehend.

“It’s a dad’s dream,” he said. “Outstanding stuff. It’s been a phenomenal experience. A great ride.”

After watching his three older boys’ successes, Cliff was hoping his youngest son could one day be part of a title team, too.

“His brothers gave him a lot of hell since he was the only one that didn’t have a state ring,” Cliff said with a laugh. “Well, now he’s got it.”

And his brothers couldn’t be happier for him.

“I’m thrilled,” Cole said.

“I was pulling for him,” Clay added. “I was actually relieved when he won. I didn’t want him to feel left out.”

Clint echoed those sentiments: “It’s almost a relief to be able to welcome him into the group. He had a great time watching us through the years, and now for us to get to see him do it was pretty special.”

Clete actually had shared in a couple of earlier Boyle County championships. He was a ball boy on the 2009 and 2010 title teams.

Clete didn’t get a ring for either of those years, but he certainly earned one this season.

His biggest moment came in the Rebels’ semifinal showdown at Elizabethtown.

Boyle County was clinging to a 14-7 lead when Clete clinched victory by intercepting an E-town pass with 28 seconds left.

“When I first made (the interception), I really didn’t realize what was going on,” he said. “Then I stood up and I realized that pretty much sealed the game. I started jump-running and celebrating with all my buddies. It was definitely an awesome experience.”

His three brothers, up in the stands, were celebrating, too.

“We all were all hugging each other,” Clay said. “ We actually had tears in our eyes, we were so excited for him.”

Cole said Clete’s pick “was probably the greatest moment in any of us Hellyer boys’ football careers. Definitely. Absolutely. I can’t think of anything any of us did that was better than that.”

Cole was home from law school at Notre Dame on Thanksgiving break and got to witness Clete’s shining moment in the semifinals. He was glad he did because he was unable to get home for Boyle County’s championship game against Corbin.

Even though his dad and mom (Jeanne), brothers Clay and Clint, and sisters Holly Jo and Hayley were at Kroger Field, Cole probably had a better view. Back at Notre Dame, he was live-streaming the game and watching it in hi-def on a big-screen TV.

“I texted the family right after it was over, and I told them Clete led the team in tackles,” Cole said. “It was a great night. I was relieved and happy it ended well.”

Getting to play on UK’s home field was a big deal for Clete, too. His brothers won their championships either at Fairgrounds Cardinal Stadium or Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, or WKU’s Houchens/L.T. Smith Stadium in Bowling Green.

“Playing at Kroger Field was great,” he said. “The stadium was awesome, the field was sweet, and coming out of the tunnel before the game, how loud the crowd was, that was unbelievable.”

Clete knows he got lucky when Chuck Smith returned to Boyle County in 2014, his freshman year.

“He definitely made a difference,” Clete said.  “He’s a great coach and a good guy. He always pushed us real hard and made sure we were always giving our full effort in being our best.”

The best of Boyle County football has resulted in eight championships (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010 and 2017), and the Brothers Hellyer have collected eight rings among them.

“It’s pretty nuts,” Clay said. “I have three; Cole and Clint each have two, and now Clete has one. That’s eight! Maybe as far as an immediate family, we probably have the most rings in the whole state.”

Yes, it’s going to be a fun get-together come Christmas.

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