By Matt Hill
For Danny Herman and Eric Arnold, it was a reward for all the hard work they had put in.
The two JCHS players joined seniors from Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia in the first annual Fellowship of Christian Athletes All-Star Game at Steve Spurrier Field in Johnson City Saturday.
Tennessee went on to win the contest 48-7.
Herman felt honored to be a part of this huge event.
I made friendships with a Hampton Bulldog and a Happy Valley Warrior, Herman said. Its great to come together and represent our state. Theyre just like us. Playing against them you see them as your enemy, but when youre playing with them you see them as your teammate and you have a camaraderie.
Herman was able to play for a man that is very familiar to Johnson County football fans as the Tennessee Coach was Stacy Carter, the Science Hill coach who used to be the head coach at Sullivan South.
Coach Carter is great, Herman said. I really like his organization skills and practices. Im really glad Tennessee had him.
Herman says the preparation for this game was a little different.
In a regular season game you already know what they can do, here our coaches didnt know us real well. They had to weed out a few people and you had to show them what you could do. Its a lot harder to get some playing time.
Of course the Tennessee team was wearing orange and white while the Virginia team wore the Virginia Tech colors of maroon and orange.
The orange was a little difficult for Herman to put on with him being a die-hard Notre Dame fan.
A lot of people know Im not a big UT fan, but if I get to represent Tennessee Ill be glad to wear it, Herman said.
Arnold was an unsung hero for the Longhorns and always gave it his all.
Arnold really enjoyed being a part of this game.
To get know everybody is so much fun, he said. I think its awesome to know that I played next to (Greenevilles Mr. Football winner) William Carmichael. It was a great feeling.
With the weather being so bad, Arnold and the rest of the kids from rural mountainous counties struggled to make it to practice.
Still, this was too big of a deal for Arnold to pass up.
It was pretty difficult, but I wouldnt have missed, Arnold said.
Arnold really didnt play a whole lot, but it didnt bother him at all.
It was fine with me, Arnold said. To get to play with all these people its awesome. If next years seniors get a chance to do it they should take it. Its a great experience.
The Virginia Team struggled, but two of the better players were from Holston High School.
Dillon DeArmond and John Dalia both had great games for the Virginia team and
DeArmond had a 45-yard kickoff return and he finished just one shy of 100 return yards.
Everybody set the wedge well and I just ran as hard a I could, DeArmond said. Everybody did a good job blocking.
DeArmond also had some big catches.
This was a great experience playing with these Southwest Virginia boys against these big Tennessee schools, DeArnomd said. I had a good time. It was a great experience.
DeArmond enjoyed playing against the Greeneville kids, who accounted for all of Tennessees touchdowns.
Theyre pretty good, he said. Theyre all right.
Dailia, a lineman who also played a little bit of fullback for Holston this year, was one of the top linemen in the game.
It was good to be able to come out here and play with the same amount of talent as me if not better, he said.
With the weather being the way it was, it was a sacrifice for Dalia to get to practice.
It was pretty hard, he said. It was cold and field was icy. Its a lot different playing on turf than playing on grass.
Daila was disappointed with the outcome, but he still feels Virginia has a lot of talent.
I think everybody tried hard, but we could have done better, he said. Tennessee had a lot more practice days than we did and they were just better.
Holstons coach, Jason Matlock, was an assistant on the Virginia team. He really enjoyed this experience.
It was a lot of fun to coach the kids that you get to see and coach against throughout the year. Its nice to coach against some of the kids from Northeast Tennessee that you get to see on the news and read about in the papers and to coach with some of the other coaches from our area. I enjoyed this experience a lot, Matlock said.
Of course the game did have a special meaning as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes sponsored the event.
One of the highlights was a testimony by former UT and NFL player Scott Gaylon.
The FCA administrator for Johnson County, Steve McAuley, was very pleased to be a part of this event.
FCA is the heart and soul in sports…we had tremendous opportunities to have spiritual impact on the All-Star players the week leading up to the game. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: post practice meal and devotional talk each day. The athletes were spiritually inspired, encouraged and challenged by the speakers each evening. Many players and coaches experienced spiritual renewal and five young men indicated making significant decisions through the FCA messages and prayer times, We look forward to the FCA All-Star Game being established as an annual event showcasing and honoring the Senior All-Stars from our respective regional High Schools. Hopefully, the game can be hosted in SW Virginia next year, then back to a NE Tennessee field in 2012 and so on, alternating the host location each year, McAuley said.