BROOKINGS, SD. (WMBB) – Two Chipley High School alums were crowned national champions with South Dakota State on Sunday.

Brian Williams graduated from Chipley in 2018 and Zac Wilson graduated from Chipley in 2019.

Both Williams and Wilson were on the South Dakota State football roster when they won their program’s first FCS DI national title in a 45-21 beatdown of rival North Dakota State.

To get to the national title, Wilson said it was a much different climate than playing in Florida.

“The semifinal game we played against Montana State was actually the coldest game in college football history,” Wilson said. “It was like nine degrees, and felt like negative 18 as we we’re out there on the field. Hands numb, feet numb. Just trying to get through and play.”

While Wilson began his college career at SDSU, Williams spent his first few years of college at Valdosta State.

Last season Williams and Valdosta State made it all the way to the DII National Championship but fell just short to Ferris State in the final game.

“To lose, it’s heartbreaking,” Williams said. “Like you see the other team with the confetti and celebrating and they’re they’re crying tears of joy but you’re crying because there’s a slim margin that you get to play for the national championship, like only two teams.”

Wilson and Williams grew up together in Chipley, so when Williams entered the transfer portal in the offseason, there was interest for him to join his childhood buddy. However, it took a bit of convincing to come that far north.

“I actually had to lie to Brian to get him to come here,” Wilson said. “I told him ‘It wasn’t that cold.’ and, you know, he’d get used to it, but there ain’t no getting used to this.”

“Zac was just like, ‘Yeah, it’s not that cold, 30 degrees here is way warmer than 30 degrees in Chipley,'” Williams said. “Not really thinking about like ‘Yeah, okay, sure Zac.’ And then he goes through and he’s like, yeah, “It’s not that cold. You will get used to it, we have an indoor facility that we practice in when it’s really cold.’ But he didn’t really tell you, the offense goes inside to practice, the defense stays outside.”

After winning a national title, Williams has no regrets.

It’s definitely worth it I would say,” Williams said. “It’s definitely the best decision I could have made coming out of the portal.”

While playing in sub-zero temperatures might not have been the story the duo would have written, it’s one they’re thankful to be a part of, representing their hometown the entire way.

“I’m so grateful to be from Chipley,” Wilson said. “I tell everybody, I’m from Chipley. And to be from a small town and to make it out like we did and win a national championship and be on ESPN, and ABC Sports, it’s really a dream come true. It’s something we’ve always dreamed of as a kid, playing on TV and stuff like that.”

Williams has one more year of collegiate eligibility while Wilson has two.