After the raucous crowd has settled down, the night lights shine down on a football team on a cool fall evening.
The scoreboard flashes zero while teams are huddled around their coach, with the coach giving his thoughts on the game.
Right before the final huddle of the night is broken, the team recites the Lord’s Prayer.
“Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.”
The prayer echoes around the group.
This practice has become customary for teams that have just seen a game close or is ending practice.
Faith is still a big part of football.
Conway Christian coach Justin Kramer said, in an Aug. 8 Kiwanis meeting, the team motto, which is “#28Seven” is relative to Deuteronomy 28.
“We use verses 1 through 14. The short story of that is Moses is talking to the Israelites after they had been wandering in the desert and about to go to the Promised Land,” he said. “He told them that if, in essence, they live their life for God, they could contact people positively. If they do that, then they will get blessings.”
Conway football coach Keith Fimple points to Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Fimple said he lives with that verse in mind.
“I live my life like that everyday because I don’t know what the plan for me is, but God knows and I’m very blessed to be able to coach football.”
Last season, near Mayflower’s postgame huddle, one could hear former Mayflower and current Vilonia coach Todd Langrell asking players for prayer requests and asked his players if they wanted to pray.
New Mayflower coach Austin Emerson spent a summer a few years ago as a youth group intern at University Church of Christ and sees his new opportunity with Mayflower as a chance to show Christ’s love.
“I’m married and have three wonderful kids and my wonderful wife, Terra, who gracefully allows me to do these wonderful things of coaching football,” he said. “I love being in central Arkansas. It’s really a big mission field for us to love on these guys and have them in our home. We want to love on them in ways most people should love on them.”
Faith is also not just found at the high school level, but can be found at the collegiate level.
University of Central Arkansas coach Nathan Brown spoke about how the coaches preach on four main areas, which are academically, athletically, socially and spiritually.
“I don’t take this lightly, but the fourth thing we preach about is spirituality,” he said. “If you have a holistic person, you usually have a holistic football player. If they are all in when it comes to spirituality, social aspects, academics and athletics, usually they are going to be good football players and great men.”
After a Saturday scrimmage on Aug. 18, Brown spoke to his players about getting up to get breakfast and head to True Holiness Saints Center for a church service.
By this time, the team had already visited New Life Church.
Then, if one is scrolling through Instagram and follows the Hendrix football account, a photo posted on Aug. 12 with the caption, “Thank you @oneChurchConway for feeding the Warriors a wonderful meal and for feeding us real spiritual food.”
Faith is not just found on the gridiron between the hashes, it can be found as opposing teams surround midcourt after a basketball game or the pitchers mound in a softball or baseball game.
Faith in sports is not dead in Faulkner County. In fact, it’s quite strong.
So, when the final horn blows, the teams shake hands, the coaches have shared their thoughts on the game, the Lord’s Prayer will echo once again under the lights.