High school football: CHA coach John Merrell missed game to be with daughter, who is battling cancer

Jenni Kufahl is married to CHA volleyball and boys basketball coach Heath Kufahl, so the Crusader community was hit hard by the news of her colon cancer.
by Scott Wright Published: October 23, 2012
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photo - HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Christian Heritage Academy head football coach John Merrell poses for a photo at the CHA football facility in Oklahoma City, Thursday, August 19, 2010.  Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Christian Heritage Academy head football coach John Merrell poses for a photo at the CHA football facility in Oklahoma City, Thursday, August 19, 2010. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD

Kufahl is married to CHA volleyball and boys basketball coach Heath Kufahl, so the Crusader community was hit hard by the news of her cancer. Yet they've come forward in droves, showing support by providing food, helping with the Kufahls' seven children, or just praying.

Early reports from doctors have been positive, and the support has boosted Jenni's desire to fight.

“It's been absolutely amazing the family of God that has come to Jenni and Heath's side during this time,” Merrell said. “They've committed to help and be active. The outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming and encouraging.

“To see God's grace and his love at work during this time has been overwhelming. I can't imagine facing something like this and not having God to call on.”

Merrell returned to practice with his team Monday and took time to share the story of what he experienced last week.

“It showed us all the example that he set, to put his family first,” quarterback Colton Lindsey said. “Football isn't everything. It's fun, and you want to work hard at it, but it's not the main focus of life.”

“I've been encouraged,” added Stamps. “I look up to coach Merrell a lot. To see how he reacted to that situation — just calm and cool and trusting in the Lord — really encouraged me.”

Merrell wasn't trying to use the experience as a teaching moment for anyone. He was simply living the way he believed he was supposed to live.

“No. 1 in my life is my relationship with God, and the next thing is my family,” he said. “Past that, there's nothing close to those two things.”

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by Scott Wright
Reporter
A lifelong resident of the Oklahoma City metro area, Scott Wright has been on The Oklahoman staff since 2005, covering a little bit of everything on the state's sports scene. He has been a beat writer for football and basketball at Oklahoma and...
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Fans pick Cashion's Reasnor as Player of the Week

In a tight race, Cashion quarterback Ty Reasnor edged Tecumseh running back Julian Tramble for the top spot in the NewsOK Varsity Oklahoma City-area Football Player of the Week fan poll.

Reasnor completed 15 of 26 passes for 287 yards and four touchdowns, including a 31-yard, game-winning TD in the final minute to defeat Crescent.

Here are the final results of the fan poll:

Ty Reasnor, Cashion: 531 votes (36.6 pct.)

Julian Tramble, Tecumseh: 491 votes (33.9 pct.)

Colton Ebers, Wellston: 222 votes (15.3 pct.)

Chris High, Douglass: 117 votes (8.1 pct.)

Bryan Dutton, Guthrie: 89 votes (6.1 pct.)

Total: 1,450 votes

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