Central Methodist Eagle Receives National Recognition

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FAYETTE, MO - The Central Methodist football team is off this Saturday but one Eagle is still receiving national recognition.

Athletes are often defined by what they do on the field.

"He's first in every wind sprint," said Alan Dykens, Central Methodist Head Football Coach. "He's the first one to practice, last one to leave."

"Always goes 100 percent, every time," said Cody Wallingford, Central methodist Senior Linebacker. "He's always in the weight room, trying to make himself better."

Central Methodist's strong safety Jacob Heppner does everything on special teams.

"Blocking, alot, on kickoff return and punt return," said Heppner. "Punt, obviously, keeping the punter safe. And then there's kickoff, my favorite. 'Your favorite?' Yeah, definitely. 'Why is that?' You just get to go and hit someone."

Heppner earned Allstate recognition for his efforts off the field, being selected as one of 11 NCAA FCS players to their AFCA Good Works Team. The Team recognizes players who commit to service and volunteerism. Among Heppner's many volunteer efforts in the community, he maintains a cumulative 4.0 GPA. He's also organizing a bone marrow drive in the spring, inspired by his little sister, Emma, who's undergoing treatment for leukemia.

"It scares you at first. I mean it's your family member, whether it's your grandma or your sibling or your parent that gets diagnosed and you know, they don't have a cure for it. So that's the scariest part."

Heppner volunteers a large amount of time to events supporting cancer research for children. He also serves as a leader in the Special Olympics championships and organizes a weekly bible study among athletes.

After all he's been through, Heppner looks forward to being a spectator.

"This time I get to go and get recognized at a college football game, especially the Sugar Bowl, it's quite an honor. Quite an honor."

But a humbled Heppner gives his head coach all the credit.

"He gives us the opportunity to participate in all these volunteer programs, and without that, I wouldn't be here. And uh, all the guys who deserve the same thing as I do wouldn't have been in the same shoes."

The Heppner family plans to celebrate next year as Jacob is set to graduate and his sister will complete her chemo treatments around the same time.