Nationally televised Border Bowl about local communities

Story by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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The Kentucky All-Stars celebrate their victory in the National Guard Border Bowl in Williamsburg, Ky., Jan. 11, 2014. Kentucky beat Tennessee 37-13 for their second victory in a row over the interstate rival. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. — On a rain-soaked field at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky., the best high school football players from Kentucky and Tennessee gathered again to play for the bragging rights to the border. As the sun broke through the clouds on Jan. 11, 2014, the two teams squared off in the the seventh annual National Guard Border Bowl.

Kentucky beat their the interstate rival for the second straight year. And also for the second year in a row, thanks to the nationally televised broadcast by FOX Sports South, the game and small border town of Williamsburg were on the map.

“Having such a game like this with the involvement of the National Guard is a great combination,” said Sgt. Trenton Guffey with the 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery.  “It seems to make sense that they are connected.”

To see more photos from the 2014 Border Bowl, click here.

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Kentucky’s Tyler Guffey scrambles through the defense during the National Guard Border Bowl in Williamsburg, Ky., Jan. 11, 2014. Guffey led the Kentucky offense to a win in front of family members including his uncle, Sgt. Trenton Guffey of the 1/623rd Field Artillery. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

Guffey was on hand to assist with the firing of a cannon with each touchdown scored in the game. But he also volunteered for the assignment to see his nephew Tyler start as the quarterback for Kentucky. Guffey pointed out the similarities of training to be a Soldier or a football player,  being parts of the community and how the seven Army Values are instilled in the players.

“Just like us in the Guard being close to local communities with armories, the players are close with their towns,” he said. “And just like the values we are taught and some of the things we stand for, they do the same on the football field. It’s about completing the mission or winning the game.”

Tyler, a senior at Wayne County High School helped lead Kentucky to a dominating 37-13 victory. He said he was happy to have his uncle in attendance and was proud to play in the Border Bowl.

“This has been a great experience, I think this is the best bowl game around,” said the Monticello, Ky. native. “It’s awesome to be able support my uncle and all our troops.”

According to Lt. Col. Fred W. Bates V, commander of the Kentucky National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion, the game is the only all-star game in the country with such a high level of advertising for the National Guard.

“This is great for the National Guard,” he said. “It’s not just about showing off the National Guard on national television, it’s a great community event for Williamsburg, Kentucky as well.”

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Brig. Gen. Benjamin Adams III (right) and Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Chumley Jr. present the 2014 National Guard Border Bowl trophy to the Kentucky high school football all-stars in Williamsburg, Ky., Jan. 11, 2014. The game is one of only a few high school match-ups with National Guard sponsorship. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

Bates thinks the game is a sign of how the National Guard should interact with their communities. He sees the game as a positive for the Guard, the town and the players, and says more of these types of games will show up around the country.

“We pay for the ability to advertise at his event, and the community runs the event,” he said. “We are able to help them make this a successful event with our resources, but it benefits Kentucky and Tennessee equally.”

The National Guard Border Bowl is a non-profit organization established to provide an all-star game featuring the top players in Kentucky and Tennessee.   This game allows players to have the opportunity to play, practice, and battle it out for the rights to the border.  It also allows high school seniors an opportunity to gain additional exposure and, perhaps, earn a scholarship for college.

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