11/07/12 — It's about more than winning for Goldsboro football players

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It's about more than winning for Goldsboro football players

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on November 7, 2012 1:46 PM

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Rasheed Mullet, left, and Taylin Davis bow their heads in prayer during a Fellowship of Christian Athletes Bible study following football practice at Goldsboro High School. These post-practice Bible studies offer life lessons for dealing with adversity both on and off the field.

A dozen Goldsboro High football players bow their heads in prayer.

In just about 24 hours they will kick off their playoff push toward the N.C. High School Athletic Association state championship. But, for now, it's time for reflection.

Practice has been over for half an hour. The players have changed and shared an armful of pizzas in the school's choir room and now look up toward Will Collins, the director of the Greater Neuse Fellowship of Christian Athletes and their FCA adviser, who has a message for them.

"God is good," he stresses throughout a Bible study centered on a chapter from Deuteronomy.

It's about battling against adversity in the forms of chariots and horses. He briefly mentions the team's first round opponent, Dixon High, but quickly moves on.

"I'm done talking about football," Collins says. "This is about life."

Collins has been hammering this message home for three seasons with the Cougars.

This year they are conference champions heading into the playoffs, but Collins wants them prepared for when times are tough -- especially after the final whistle blows.

He began the concept of a team Bible study with Goldsboro's football team during Asunji Maddox's freshman year.

Maddox is a senior now, with plans to compete next season at Elon University, but no matter how far away he is from Goldsboro, he says he won't soon forget the lessons he learned during the weekly FCA Bible studies Collins and volunteer James Jones have led.

"High school is the foundation," he said. "In the real world and life, it's the foundation."

And he is happy that his high school memories include his teammates praying and playing alongside each other.

Knowing football isn't everything, the strong safety says, will help him deal with the adversity of losses, both personal and shared.

Senior quarterback Julius Murphy has a similar view.

"It's something I can look back on," he said.

The lessons, both on and off the field, will help to serve him in the future, no matter where life takes him.

And that's what Collins has been after ever since he brought his message to the Cougars, but it hasn't stopped there.

Hearing about the program at Goldsboro has spawned similar ones across the county, from Eastern Wayne football to Rosewood volleyball -- 10 school teams in all as the program grows.

And while the impact the program has on its participants will outlast the season, Murphy is quick to note that it has also helped the team on the field as well.

"We get stronger every week -- as a family," he said. "After a mistake we'll pick someone up. Before we would just tear them down."

It's strengthened the team's core, he says, which is important since the team has what Maddox called a "tough road" to the championship as the east's No. 4 seed.

But no matter the foe throughout the season, one fixture has remained on the sideline -- Collins.

He will be there when the team plays its final down and after the whistle blows, either signifying a season cut short or a state championship, Collins' message will be the same, either in celebration and consolation: God is good.