EAST LYME, Conn. (WTNH) — The East Lyme High School football team is the first in the state to wear a series of special jerseys as part of a partnership with the Connecticut National Guard.

Staff Sgt. Curtis Ruckey, a recruiter, talked to the players before a game Friday about the importance of the uniform.

“I was trying to kind of portray the message of the history that our organization has in the United States of America and really how it helped create the country that we live in today,” he said.

The jerseys are part of the Connecticut National Guard’s Hometown Football Uniform Program.

It’s a message, players said, resonated with them.

“Always go forward,” Jackson Hart, a senior, said. “I think that’s awesome. The way he said it, it’s just is it really hit me there. And, honestly, I’m more than ready now.”

Ruckey told the students that if they feel good about wearing the jersey, then they should look into a career in the military.

It was a message that hit close to home for Coach Rudy Bagos, whose father was in the Navy for 28 years.

“What they do is tremendous, what they do for the community,” Bagos said. “We should be better at thanking them.”