Chester High School’s Jeremiah Days Jr. has likely been given awards before for his accomplishments on the football field.
But this one is a bit different.
On Monday, in the form of a T-shirt, Chester County Sheriff Max Dorsey gave Days Jr. the first-ever “Chester County Sheriff’s Offensive Lineman Guardian of the Week Award” for his performance against Aiken in his team’s first game of the season.
What makes this award different than others like it, though, is that it means more to the community than its title lets on.
“The fact that they’re doing this is very good for the community for the simple fact that, if you just look across America right now, there’s a major problem with police brutality and murders and just the whole thing,” Cyclones head coach Victor Floyd said.
“In order for people to have respect for authority, I think things like this need to be done, so they can show the humane side, as opposed to something negative or always trouble-related. Here’s something positive that’s not any way trouble-related, with a young person in the community.”
Dorsey, who played high school football, said the sport helped him develop values like leadership and courage.
In his playing days, Dorsey was an inside linebacker for Chester. But he said he shared a “unique” relationship with his fellow offensive linemen, and it’s part of why he said he chose to interact with the community in this way.
“It is a way to recognize the O-line of a football team, who are typically the least-recognized individuals on the football team, and to show that the role they serve on a team is so similar to what cops do,” Dorsey said.
“They serve as the guardians of the people that are important on their team — the people with the ball. As police officers, we are guarding the people that need to be protected, too.”
The award was established months after Dorsey took office. He replaced Alex Underwood, who was indicted and charged in connection with a conspiracy to cover up an unlawful arrest and excessive use of force.
Dorsey, who was appointed sheriff by South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster shortly after Underwood’s suspension, wrote an open letter to the Chester community in May: “Our priority is to restore public trust and infuse the principles of honor and service in all that we do.”
And that’s part of what this award seems to do.
“You think about it, and policeman are supposed to protect and serve, and that’s exactly what offensive linemen do,” Floyd said. “It’s kind of a selfless position, just like being a police officer is a selfless position.”
According to the resolution produced by Dorsey, award recipients will be honored at an annual dinner hosted by Dorsey and will be “regularly mentored by deputies to encourage their continued development as future leaders in our community.”
Days Jr., the recipient of the first award, graded out at 85 percent with five knockdowns on Aug. 22.