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|Does God play football?|
Have you ever wondered if God plays football? He could very well be involved, but I do not think that he ever takes sides. But sometimes I wonder.
One of the most inspiring stories that I have ever heard was told to me by the late Bill Ruple. Neville was in the playoffs with DeQuincy High School. Back in those days there was not enough money to carry all the players to the out-of-town games. Thursdays were usually set aside for a short pre-game practice. After practice was finished on Thursday, all the players had packed their bags and gone home.
Ruple was checking to make sure that all the equipment was ready for the trip. He noticed one player was still hanging around and saw that the young man was all red-eyed from crying. When Ruple asked him what was bothering him, the player told his coach that he wanted so badly to get to dress out and go to the game, but he was not on the travel list. All of you who were acquainted with Ruple know that his heart melted when he saw a teary-eyed kid. When Ruple saw how much the kid wanted to go, he told him, "Oh. You can go. You can have my seat. I'll stand in the stairwell. Go get yourself packed."
Neville and DeQuincy had battled all night that Friday night. DeQuincy had a 12-0 lead with time running out. Neville scored late in the game to make it 12-7. When Neville was set to kickoff, one of Neville's players had been hurt on the play before and they were only 10 men on the field. When Ruple noticed that they were one-man-short, he grabbed the nearest player to him, and sent him into the game.
Now what happened next makes you wonder if God does play at times. Neville kicked off, and the player who Ruple had inserted at the last minute went down, made the tackle and caused a fumble that Neville recovered. Neville took the ball and marched it down for a score that won the game. Who was the player that Ruple had inserted at the last minute? The same young man who Ruple had made a place for the day before. What do you think? Does God play football?
Then on another occasion, my wife and I were attending a West Monroe playoff game. At that time in West Monroe's history, playoffs were rare. West Monroe was playing Carenco who had a great player by the name of Kevin Faulk. It was late in the game and West Monroe had less than a touchdown lead. Faulk took the ball and started on a sweep, he had turned the corner, and he had daylight all the way to the goal. But as he broke into the open, he left the ball behind. Faulk had run the ball quite a lot and he did not respond quickly to the fumble. I am not sure that he even knew that he had dropped the ball. West Monroe recovered the ball to preserve the victory in the quarterfinals.
Why do I think that this particular play was monumental for West Monroe? I remember leaning over to my wife and saying, "Donna, they are going to win it all". And win it all, they did. West Monroe's first state championship. I believe this play, this one moment, gave birth to one of the most outstanding programs in America.
Robert Charles Payne is an inspirational writer who lives in West Monroe. He can be contacted by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.