Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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June 17, 2014

2014 FCA HEART OF A CHAMPION BOWL: More than just a game

Area athletes compete and learn about God during annual FCA event

TYLER — Recent graduates spent a week in Tyler learning more than just the game of football.

Around 100 athletes from 65 schools from the Northeast Texas area played in the fourth annual Chick-fil-A Heart of a Champion Bowl game at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium in Tyler on Saturday.

Seven athletes from the Henderson County area participated in the week long event.

Four of the athletes were from Athens in Adam Stallings, Chris Jefferson, Nic Fincher and K.J. Cumby.

Quentin McKenzie from Brownsboro, Josh DeMayo from Mabank and Raleigh Seilheimer from Cross Roads were members of the Red team with Fincher and Cumby.

Seilheimer had two tackles for the Red team.

“We stayed quite the whole week and we knew that we had a good squad,” Jefferson said. “They were all big headed and talking about how the offense was going to take care of business.We knew that we were going to have each others back and we would play strong for 48 minutes.”

The Blue team defeated the Red team, 38-28, as Stallings was named the offensive Most Valuable Player.

Stallings scored three touchdowns in the contest, while Jefferson had a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown. Jefferson had a tackle and a sack.

“I did not expect it because I have not had any interceptions in a long while,” Jefferson said. “When I saw the quarterback coming out into the flat, I knew that I could make a play and help out the team.”

Stallings had touchdown receptions of nine and seven yards from Commerce quarterback Sam Wells. He also scored from a yard out for the game winning score in the fourth quarter.

He had six carries for 19 yards.

“First of all, I would not have gotten this without my offensive line,” Stallings said about the MVP award. “They did a great job and we just went out there and gave it our all tonight.”

Cumby finished the game with four tackles for the Red team.

“The day was a long day and we came out here and gave everything that we had,” Cumby said. “This was some of the best players in East Texas and we had fun and the Blue squad got us. As long as we did this for God, it was definitely worth it.”

He was thrilled to see Stallings receive the MVP award since they will be teammates at East Texas Baptist University.

“I thought he deserved it and he got three touchdowns,” Cumby said. “I almost had him on the first  play and the second time he touched the ball I made him fumble. After that he came back and he was running the ball and I got drilled by him and another player.”

The mission of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes is to present to coaches and athletes, and all whom they influence, the challenge and adventure of receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, serving Him in their relationships and in the fellowship of the church.

For Stallings, the mission of the FCA impacted him throughout the week.

“I loved this week because it was probably one of the best things that has happened to me,” Stallings said. “We got to learn about God, play football and meet a lot of great people from the other schools.”

Jefferson, who will be attending  classes at Trinity Valley Community College in the fall, said he grew closer to God this week.

“It means a lot because it made me realize how much God has affected me in my life,” Jefferson said. “When I first came here and I am not going to lie, I was not as strong and had known what God has done for me in my life. It made me realize that I should always live life to the fullest.”

The week made an impact on Cumby to become closer to God and to understand the true meaning of how to be successful in life.

“The week has been great,” he said. “Coming in and realizing that God has blessed each one of us is letting us know that we are here for a reason and has a plan for each one of us. It has been amazing to realize a lot of things during this week.”

With this game being the final time that Fincher will strap on the pads, he said he was impacted on the final day of the event.

“We learned a big thing today is that it is not always about us but helping others,” Fincher said. “If we help others, then we are going to get to where we want to be in life.”

Fincher said it was tough playing his final game on Saturday.

“It is bittersweet and it was a great thing that I got to play with all of these good athletes,” Fincher said. “We had fun in the dorms and every where that we were this week.”

The size of the athletes was another area where Fincher was surprised with the talent.

“There was huge athletes on both teams and it was one of the best FCA bowls that they have had,” Fincher said. “It was crazy and there were all-stars every where and it was definitely tough.”

With this game being a curtain call for many of the athletes as their final high school game, Cumby said he is ready for the next chapter in his life.

“It meant a lot to come out here and give everything that I had,” Cumby said. “It was special for all of the athletes to come out and have fun as a high school student with all of these guys around East Texas.”

With this being the final game for Cumby, Jefferson, Stallings and Fincher as high school students, Jefferson said this will be a lasting memory for him.

“It means the world to me because I love my brothers from Athens,” Jefferson said. “It means a lot to cap this week off with a win with Adam and I know Nic and K.J. are a little upset about it.”

For Fincher, he said he will follow his friends throughout their college career.

“We are going to keep up with each other and we are going to stay together for the rest of our lives,” Fincher said.

Cumby said playing his final game with Fincher was a great way to end his high school career.

“It is kind of bitter sweet but like coach was telling us football is not for everybody,” Cumby said. “It was fun playing one last game with him tonight.”

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