The inaugural Valley Fellowship of Christian Athletes All-Star Series Football game, held Sunday at James Madison University’s Bridgeforth Stadium, was a success.
The area all-star game pitted Team Shenandoah, made up of seniors from the Shenandoah District, against Team Valley, which consisted of seniors from the Bull Run and Valley Districts. Team Shenandoah won, 42-0, but Central senior quarterback Zeb Dyer, who played for Team Valley, said he had a great time.
“We didn’t really do how we wanted to offensively, but I thought it was a cool experience,” Dyer said. “It was the first time they’ve ever done this all-star game, and I thought it was a cool experience. And I got to play with guys that I’ve played against and got to play with them and kind of be on the same team as them and try and compete against other teams. So that was cool.”
There were nine local athletes combined on the two teams and two coaches. Stonewall Jackson coach Pete Lampman was one of Team Shenandoah’s assistant coaches and one of his players at Stonewall Jackson, Logan Ritchie, was on Team Shenandoah.
Team Valley had six players from Central, Zach Abrams, Kyle Clanton, Dyer, Jacob France, Declan Franklin, and Shane Watson. Strasburg had two players, Stephen Kloosterman and Hunter Miller, on Team Valley. Central coach Mike Yew was an assistant coach for Team Valley.
Franklin was named Team Valley’s most outstanding defensive player.
Dyer said he and Broadway quarterback Nick Lohr split time at the position throughout the game. Lohr was the quarterback for the first and third quarters and Dyer played in the second and fourth quarters. Dyer finished the game 3-for-7 passing for 30 yards. Clanton ran the ball three times for 19 yards.
Central coach Mike Yew said he was happy with how his players performed.
“I thought our kids did pretty well,” Yew said. “It got to a point where when you’re down 42-0, it’s hard to get excited and play every play. So I think that kind of set in a little bit on our sideline, not just with our kids but a lot of kids from other schools. For the most part our kids played hard and they tried. I think they had a really good time playing just with the score — it didn’t seem like anything went our way. Any time there was a chance to make a turnover we had one. We just didn’t make any of the plays that we needed to make.”
Yew said overall he felt it was a good experience for everyone involved.
“It was a great event,” Yew said. “It was put together with a lot of planning from a lot of guys up in that area. The big thing we took from it was it was an opportunity for kids to be around kids from other schools as well as coaches from other schools. And I think the kids really embraced that part of it. They had a chance to talk to other kids and talk to them about things they do at their school. Things they do in their sports programs, things they do in football. And kids just had a chance to be kids around someone else.”
Valley FCA area director Jason Stuhlmiller said the idea to do the game came last year from a couple of football coaches in the area so they decided to do it this season as a way to give the area football players one last high school game.
Valley FCA is a sports ministry, whose goal is to put character coaches on campuses and with teams specifically at the high school and college level. They serve the city of Harrisonburg, Shenandoah, Rockingham and Page Counties.
“A character coach is really just that — support for coaches and athletes outside of their sport to do some life coaching, Christian mentoring, counseling that type of stuff,” Stuhlmiller said.
Stuhlmiller said there were around 800 fans in attendance for Sunday’s game. He said he was happy with the turnout considering the weather.
Even though the score wasn’t close, Stuhlmiller said that he was proud of the attitude the players had.
“I think both teams took it well,” he said. “The winning team was humble and the losing team was respectful. And they had the right perspective. They were excited about the opportunity to play on the same team as guys they had been going against for five, six years. So it was really cool for me to be a part of that and to see unity being built.”
Stuhlmiller said that the theme for Valley FCA this year is unity in the community so he was happy to see the community come together in the way it did for the game. He said it was a joy just watching so many different coaches from different teams work together and unite.
There were also college coaches on hand at the game and at practices, which were held at JMU’s indoor practice facility.
Stuhlmiller said there were coaches from Bridgewater College, Shenandoah University, Randolph-Macon College and Shepherd University for the practices, but he wasn’t sure which ones were at the game.
He said that they call the event the Valley FCA All-Star Series because they are hoping to do more sport all-star games in the future. He said they hope to add one sport each year.
Dyer said he believes the all-star game is a great idea and great for the community.
“I feel like they need to keep doing it,” Dyer said. “Those kids that don’t really get exposure during the season, it helps them to perform in front of college coaches.”