kneel SM Celina FB
After a big rivalry game, Celina and St. Marys combined to take a ‘knee’

photo courtesy Jeff Dale of Jagged Edge Photography

(10-16-17) In Northwest Ohio one of the biggest high school football rivalries took place on Friday night, the St. Marys Roughriders and the Celina Bulldogs.   Both communities live on the shores of Grand Lake and just a 15 minute drive from each other.

This game had both communities interested in the outcome, it was Homecoming in Celina and with a win the Bulldogs would tie for 1st place in the Western Buckeye League, while a St. Marys win would clinch a tie for the Roughriders. The result was a St. Marys win 35-14, after Celina had cut the lead to 21-14 in the fourth quarter to make it a ballgame.

St. Marys Coach Doug Frye commented on the picture above and what took place after the game with both teams:

That is a great picture!

We live in a great area in Mercer and Auglaize counties. It was inspiring to come together afterwards with no winners and losers. This is what competition and team sports are all about, working together with a common purpose.

But what happened after the final play of the night is what many fans wanted to talk about after the game, that’s when both teams went to midfield, kneeled and a had short time of prayer as a combined group.

Michael Reams wears many hats at St. Marys, he is an Industrial Tech Instructor, Roughrider Assistant Varsity Football Coach and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Advisor.

This is often commented as “people’s favorite part of the night“, when we come together at the end and mix up the teams and take a knee.

This is something we “District 8 FCA, Andy Lynch (District 8 Advisor), Steve Stroh (helps me with St. Marys FCA and team chaplain), and several of are players have been wanting to do for quite a while. Last year we made it happen. Every game, except our opening game, including all of our playoff games we were able to get the teams together afterwards and get a prayer. Most of the time it is Steve Stroh our team chaplain and FCA assistant that coordinates the prayer with the other team. Then I get the teams together and get the talk started after the game and try and have a player from each team say a prayer and finish with the Lord’s prayer.

The main reason for us wanting to do the prayer, besides the obvious, that we feel that our Lord and Savior should be the center of all that we do, is to let the players understand that even though the competition may be fierce (and it definitely was Friday night), after the game is over we are no longer opponents but fellow brothers in this world and we should support one and another. It keeps the focus that the game is just that “a game” and how we interact with each other is more important. Commonly the players prayers include thanking God for the safety of the players and if any injuries had occurred that a hand of healing be laid upon that player and that it not be serious. They often , no matter win or lose give the Glory to Jesus for the opportunity to use their talents that were given to them by our Lord to play a game that they love.

Our coaches here at St. Marys, since I have been around (2001) have always challenged the player to be the best Football Player they can be, but have also nurtured and promoted becoming the best young man that they can be. It has become part of our tradition and one I hope that last longer than any of us. There is much more that could be said about how important and special these moments are but I don’t wish to get long winded. I hope it keeps catching on and I don’t know anyone that could look at the priceless moment that was captured in your photo and not say “That is what it is all about and that’s why we do it.”

With the controversy going around the country about taking a knee during the Star-Spangled banner, this kneeling was very refreshing to many of those watching from the sidelines.

Celina Head Coach Brennen Bader:

High school football should be used as a platform by coaches to teach and instill life lessons to our student-athletes. Football is indeed a fierce game played with much intensity and passion. The action taken by the Bulldogs and Riders after the conclusion of the “Battle of Grand Lake” game demonstrates and reiterates that even very competitive and bitter rivals are able to unite as one. There are many problems and challenges in today’s society revolving divisiveness between various groups. The unity that took place after the conclusion of our game last Friday is refreshing to see and it emphasizes the importance of unity to our student-athletes. Players and coaches compete to win games, make the playoffs, and win championships, but we all must remember during that pursuit of the things that truly matter.

Here are some comments from several Celina fans on Facebook, remember the Bulldogs lost –

  • We didn’t win, but this was the best play of the whole game. Hometown rivalries Celina Bulldogs St Marys Roughriders this is the way you end the game kneeling together and praying. The NFL could learn from these kids. great sportsmanship
  • This is one of the reasons I love living in a small Midwest community. ..the two biggest rivals, Celina Bulldogs vs St. Mary’s Roughriders, coming together after the game for prayer. THIS IS AMERICA PUTTING OURSELVES BACK TOGETHER AGAIN!!!
  • So proud of our Communities on the lake. These kids show us how to ‘take a knee’. #happytolivehere
  • This is my America!!!! This is when you take a knee!
  • Arch rivals, but can come together for prayer. Yea!!!
photo courtesy Snap In Time Photography
photo courtesy Snap In Time Photography