Nov. 21, 2012 — Football is a sport about building brotherhood and camaraderie; the kind that makes you stronger; makes you rely on one another to make it through the fight that lies between the lines.
Last week, East Carter Raiders Jacob Gray and Zack Cathey were honored at the annual EKC Banquet with the Wes Hopkins Courage Award for what is no doubt an example of perseverance that everyone can respect.
An unfortunate occurrence of fate brought the two friends together on New Year’s Day 2010, when a tragedy involving the death of Gray’s stepfather, Heath Toney, and Cathey’s father, Clifford Cathey, resulted in manslaughter charges being brought against Clifford Cathey. Litigation in the case is pending.
Through the pain and struggles of misfortune, Zack and Jacob found solace in two things: in one another and on the football field.
“We've only been friends for about a year and a half, but we've known each other for about three years,” said Gray, regarding he and Cathey’s friendship, “We were not really good friends before the incident, but now we are really close. Football helped us a lot, because of all the games we've played in, the workouts and the practices we’ve been through.”
Cathey agreed, saying the pain of loss brought the boys together.
“When this happened, we needed each other to get through it,” Cathey said. “Raider football brought us together even more. Seeing each other every day and having to watch each other perform at the level we did just made us so much closer as friends.”
While the scenario facing the two Raider juniors hasn’t been a public topic of discussion for the East Carter team, the boys are well respected for their bravery.
East Carter Head Coach Zack Moore, who has coached Gray and Cathey for two years, says the willingness to fight through this is a true testament to the boys’ will to succeed.