Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 15, 2012

Higher ground game

Turner carries faith with him on, off field

Kyle Hobstetter
The Independent

WESTWOOD —  

Fairview running back Devon Turner has been to the region championship game three straight times. 
He was named the 2012 Eastern Kentucky Conference Player of the Year by coaches in the conference. 
He rushed for 1,100 yards last season and topped that this season by going for 1,232 yards. 
Those are accolades and numbers that any player would want to show off to his friends and teammates. But Turner would rather display something else with those in the locker room — his faith. 
“He always says to us that we have to think we’re going to win,” said senior teammate Joel Wardle. “He tells us we have to believe in ourselves. He’s the one that makes the team believe.”
Turner, who’s well into his senior season with Eagles, is not one to shy away from sharing his beliefs with his teammates. 
He said he always reminds his team of Philippians 4:13, because he feels sharing this verse helps to motivate not only his team, but also himself.  
“I just tell the team that all the time because that’s just my personal beliefs,” Turner said. “I don’t push it on anyone, I just share it with people. And a lot of time it just motivates people to believe in themselves and more importantly to believe in God. 
“That’s just something I try to tell the team — that with God all things are possible.” 
For the past three seasons, Turner has found himself starting in the Fairview backfield. And since the fifth grade Turner has shared the backfield with fullback Chris Brewer. 
While Turner shares his faith with Brewer, it’s Brewer who has been putting his faith into his teammate for the past seven years. 
“I know Devon is always going to be there,” Brewer said. “He’s a great Christian guy and he’s a lot better man than I am. I really admire him for that.” 
When talking to Turner, one can’t help to see his faith shine through in his words, and even though equipment, sometimes putting bible verses on his eye black. 
He admits that his strong belief in faith was instilled to him at an early age by his parents, Linton Turner and Jennifer Bailey. 
He’s also quick to admit when he feels his faith is not at its strongest, it’s his parents who always build him back up. 
“They always told me that with God all things are possible,” Turner said. “They’re always there for me and they always keep me uplifted and motivated even when I’m down. 
“It’s just great to be able to go to my mom and dad and I’m just thankful they’ve raised me to try and be a good person, and live for Christ the best I can.” 
But while faith is important to Turner, so is football. 
Wardle is quick to point out that Turner works harder than almost anyone else on the team. 
“Most people don’t know how hard Devon works,” Wardle said. “He’s earned everything he’s got.” 
Turner has proven that by becoming a force on the field. 
Along with the two 1,000-yard seasons, he’s also picked up 36 touchdowns on the ground in the past two years. 
On defense, Turner has been known to deliver massive hits, including a powerful, clean tackle on Raceland running back Daylin Beach that knocked his helmet off and actually caused him to miss the second half.
Fairview coach Nathan McPeek said that’s just the kind of player Turner is. 
“He brings a lot of leadership and he’s just a great athlete,” McPeek said. “He brings a lot of speed to the game and he’s a real good hitter too. I think he can play outside linebacker in college, if not running back.” 
While Turner has so many personal achievements on the field, his favorite moment from the past season isn’t scoring a touchdown or making a big hit. 
It’s one of his teammates, and his friend, living out a dream. 
“When Joel Wardle scored that touchdown (against Powell County in October),” Turner said through a smile. “He’s such an inspiration, because of his work ethic. I know he said I work hard, but there’s not anyone in the world or anyone I’ve met that has the work ethic that Joel has.” 
Wardle said that’s the kind of person Turner is, one that deflects personal praise.
“He’s a good Christian man,” Wardle said. “And it’s not just to one person, he acts the same way towards every person. I respect him for that, and because he’s given me opportunities to be his friend that some people haven’t.” 
Turner and the Eagles are still looking to give the school its first regional title. They go to Pikeville on Friday night.
But more importantly to Turner, he’s looking to help give the chance for his coaches and his teammates to lift up the trophy.
“It’s humongous because this game will never come around again in my lifetime,” he said. “These guys are my brothers, and I know they’re going to have my back. And for me to not give everything I have on the field would be just a slap in the face to them. 
“I just want to do all I can for my teammates.” 
And while his goals right now are to go on to win a state championship, no one would blame Turner to look ahead to the future. 
According to McPeek there are some schools which have had some interest about Turner playing at the next level. 
Turner places his fate out of his own hands.
“I’m just going to keep facing God and keep working,” Turner said. “I love the game of football and I plan on going to college and play football if that’s what God has in plan for me. 
“I don’t want to put pressure on myself, I just want to put God first.” 
KYLE HOBSTETTER can be reached at khobstetter@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2658.