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Column - What does it mean to turn the other cheek?

by Mark Humphrey | September 13, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

PRAIRIE GROVE -- High school football season's barely begun and already there are peculiar things going on resembling a nasty trickle splashing over from the political arena which tends to affect life.

Yet in football, like in life, there are testimonies that stand out.

Take for instance, the philosophy of Tulsa Metro Christian head football coach Jared McCoy, the nonconference opponent for Prairie Grove this Friday.

As a Christian school McCoy realizes his guys play with a target on their back because people expect the Patriots to play to a higher standard.

Tulsa Metro Christian Academy was founded in 1983 by parents and educators with a desire and a vision to create an interdenominational school focused on Christian values. According to its website, families seeking a Christ-centered, high-quality, well-respected school need not look any further.

In the aftermath of the Patriots' 41-21 win at Prairie Grove last season, McCoy was asked what does he have to do to keep his kids from getting a cocky attitude in the midst of talent and to play with humility and sportsmanship.

Prairie Grove fans witnessed that style of competition from a very good football team last season. Tulsa Metro Christian hit hard, but played within the rules and helped the Tigers back to their feet after tackling them.

I have to admit that was refreshing to watch and saw that type of mutual respect play out last week in Prairie Grove's nonconference game against Gravette.

"You're right on the money. It is really challenging," McCoy said. "I think that to be a Christian, first of all, you have to understand that we all mess up every day. That's what it's all about. We need a saviour, and In sports it's so competitive, it's really tough, and so it is a daily battle for us as coaches and for our kids to keep that competitive edge and to keep that [perspective]."

McCoy said he tries to keep in mind that football is an extra-curricular activity.

"This is is a game and we really want to honor our competition and God with the way we play, but, that's a big challenge and we're not always successful at that," he said.

While allowing for human nature, McCoy acknowledged teaching his players to honor their faith while honoring an opponent is probably something he works at achieving as much as success on the football field.

"There's no doubt. We do weekly, daily devotions with our kids just to remind them what it's all about," McCoy said. "We got an incredible savior, Jesus Christ, and like I said I think the real challenge is, walking off the field sometimes we forget that, but that's what we're here for as far as one another."

The Tigers (2-0) and the Patriots (1-1) kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday.

The directions aren't complicated for Prairie Grove fans.

Take the Cherokee Turnpike to Tulsa, then follow I-44 towards Oklahoma City where it splits from U.S. 412 to exit 227. Go south on Lewis Avenue towards Oral Roberts University. Take a right and go west on East 61st Street, then take a left and go south on South Trenton Avenue two blocks to the stadium parking lot and Metro Christian campus.

The gps physical location is Metro Christian Academy, 6363 S. Trenton Ave., Tulsa, OK 74136.

Allow a two-hour drive time.

Renovation of Patriot Stadium in 2019 featured an upgrade to artificial turf, a renovated press box and new video screen. Tiger boosters might want to take in those facilities and keep in mind what needs to be done at Prairie Grove's Tiger Den Stadium in the future.

"You know when you're competing against a quality program like this [Prairie Grove], it's a tough game and you're battling, it's tough to keep that edge and to keep that balance of what we're really trying to do," McCoy said.

Expect the Patriots to come out and play with a true definition of what it means to turn the other cheek, not allow oneself to get drawn into an unnecessary duel that could lead to bloodshed or a physical altercation, but, while overlooking mild offenses, refusing to waver from one's convictions and standing fast to ageless truths and principles explained in the Bible.

Prairie Grove fans know they can expect the Tigers to do the same under the direction of Danny Abshier, the longest tenured active coach in Arkansas as he takes a team to Tulsa for the first time since 1999 according to Prairie Grove football historian Lynn Gregson.

Mark Humphrey is a sports writer for the Enterprise-Leader. The opinions expressed are the author's own.

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