Evangel, Kingwood players compete in All-American game

Published 1:04 pm Friday, January 11, 2019

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

GATLINBURG, Tenn. – Evangel Christian School and Kingwood Christian School both had strong representation at the 2019 NAAPS All-American football games with a combined 10 players competing in the annual event.

Held at the Rocky Top Sports facility in Gatlinburg, Tennessee on Saturday, Jan. 5, the day featured one 8-man and one 11-man All-American football game with 115 players from across the country including as far away as California.

While the games were enjoyable, there was also a banquet the Friday night before the game to honor all of the players in attendance marking the end to a special football season.

For the Lightning, Noah Shears, Will Ferrell, Hunter Green, Tyler Henderson, Nate Arvizu, Samuel Graham and Will Parker all participated in the game.

After going 3-3 through their first six games, the Lightning went on to close out the season with five wins in a row and pulled off wins in seven of their final eight games of the season.

Hunter Green, who ended the season with 140 tackles for the Lightning’s defense, was named the 2018 NAAPS National 1A Defensive Player of the Year.

Young quarterback Tyler Henderson also received a top honor by being named the National 1A Underclassman of the Year by the NAAPS.

For the Kingwood Lions, Garrett Helmers, Toni Ruiz and Peyton Long all competed in the game thanks to strong seasons.

Ruiz posted 412 receiving yards and five touchdowns on just 27 catches to compile a great season for the Lions, while Garrett Helmers played on both sides of the ball and did well on the defensive line and played all over the place on offense.

Long totaled 53 tackles with an interception defensively this season for the Lions, while posting eight receptions for 202 yards and two touchdowns receiving as well as 485 yards and nine touchdowns rushing.

They were part of a team that helped spark a 5-1 start to the season despite playing one of the most difficult AISA schedules in the state.

All of the players that were part of the game competed for the Stars team in a matchup of stars and stripes, and while the Stars lost both games, 36-26 in the 8-man contest and 21-10 in the 11-man contest, it created a special memory for each individual that was part of the special day.