Chad Morris went back to his roots Monday night, surrounded by Texas High School football coaches and players.

Morris, offensive coordinator at Clemson University, jumps at any chance to return to Texas — and he did that as keynote speaker at the Northeast Texas Fellowship of Christian Athletes Fourth Annual Chick-fil-A Heart of a Champion Bowl Banquet.

The former Edgewood High School quarterback and highly successful Texas high school coach was right in his element before some 500 players, coaches and parents at Green Acres Baptist Church’s CrossWalk Center.

“Every time I get up to introduce myself, whether I’m speaking to alumni or in front of high school coaches in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida or Texas, I introduce myself as a high school football coach,” said Morris, who began his coaching career at Eustace High School and was recently named the 2013 American Football Coaching Association National Assistant Coach of the Year. “I’m proud of that fact. Any of these coaches here could be where I’m at now.”

He added as a coach, it is a powerful platform “to witness and share our stories about our relationship with God and Jesus Christ.”

Morris did not start out to be a football coach. He wanted to be in the math field and while at Texas A&M he became engaged to his future wife Paula. She had another year of college, so he took a job under coach Lloyd Fields at Eustace.

“Coach Fields had me coaching quarterbacks and then I coached basketball and baseball and I said I can’t believe they are paying me to do this,” he said. “My dad was a fireman and I wanted to be a fireman. I took exams for FBI, DEA and I was trying to see what was meant for me.

“We were deep in the basketball playoffs at Eustace and I was No. 2 on the list to be hired as a fireman in a city around Dallas. A group of kids came over to the house one night and said, ‘Coach, please don’t leave us,’ and from that point forward I thought this is God’s calling for me. I kept trying and trying to get out (of coaching) but He kept pulling me back.”

Former Edgewood coach Jim McEnturff, who was Morris’ coach in high school, was in attendance Monday. Morris saw how McEnturff and other coaches had such an impact on young men’s lives and that was a big reason he is in coaching.

Bill Coates, ESPN East Texas sports director, served as master of ceremonies. Bobby Cooley, Middle School minister at Green Acres, gave the prayer. Scott Brown, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bullard, introduced the all-star football players, coaches, cheer sports and cheerleaders.

Robert Bardin, Northeast Texas/Tyler FCA Area Representative, thanked the sponsors.

The FCA All-Star Football Game is scheduled for June 14 at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.

NOTES: After Eustace, Morris coached at Elysian Fields, Stephenville and Lake Travis. He had back-to-back 16-0 state championship teams at Lake Travis before becoming the offensive coordinator at Tulsa.

SPONSORS

Naming: Chick-fil-A

Platinum: Cavender’s

Gold: Rogers Foundation

Silver: Trinity Mother Frances Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Bronze: 512 Investments, Jucy’s, Kelly Community Federal Credit Union, UBS, Ralph and Judy Stewart, Puritan Financial Inv./Vernon and Pat Hargrave, Mr. and Mrs. Bob Jacob

All-Star: Adams Engineering, Brickstreet Pharmacy, Elliott’s Jewelers, Kiwanis Club of Van, Bishop T.K. Gorman, Southside Bank, Robert and Barbara Bardin, Prosperity Bank, Prothro, Wihelmi and Associates

Sports Editor

I am a native Tylerite and I grew up reading the Tyler Morning Telegraph and The Tyler Courier-Times. My parents took both the morning and afternoon papers. I came to work here 34 years ago at the age of 23, right after college.

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