For Gage Outlaw, football is where God and the gridiron meet

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A quiet kid with a loud faith and a big platform, North Duplin quarterback Gage Outlaw understands that football fields are often a place where competition surpasses everything. But for him, the one who surpasses all understanding is what drives his performance on the field.

The now second-year starting junior quarterback Outlaw has been a standout player on both the football field as well as baseball field during his time at North Duplin High School. But where he stands out the most is something that he says he stands in: his faith in God. Gage is not only a key cog for the football team, but he is also a key cog for the Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s team at his school. Outlaw is mostly a calm and quiet guy, but that all changes when he says it is time to be a vessel for God.

“Football is very important at North Duplin. Some students look up to us football players. You can look at the elementary school students, and they want a piece of that brotherhood one day,” Outlaw said. “God has given me a stage. I would be a fool not to use it. There are so many people in school and around the community that is looking for that little extra. It’s my job to show them, Jesus. And I will.”

Outlaw led North Duplin to the playoffs last year where the team exited in the first round, but that set the standard for his time as the Rebels quarterback. The Rebels sit at 1-1 so far on the season and they opened up its 2019 campaign with a 22-0 win over South Lenoir. The Rebels followed the lead of their leader. South Lenoir talked a lot during and before the game, but it didn’t seem to phase North Duplin.

Walking up to the coin toss, Outlaw had a laser beam stare locked on everyone in front of him. He gave the Devils’ players pats on the back and told them to “bring it on.”

It was this quiet confidence that has rallied the team around its quarterback. Outlaw doesn’t have to say much on either side of the ball, but his actions say a lot. Even in the drubbing of South Lenoir, none of the Rebels got too overhyped, none of them talked back. It was like the aura of the entire team took after its quiet and confident leader.

In an interview with the Tribune, Outlaw was asked why his emotions never seemed to sway one way or another, even after mistakes. His answer was simple.

“When I am on the field, I put all my trust in God. I try to let God’s light shine through all my actions,” he said. “My dad has always told me that people watch what you do on the field so whenever I’m on it, I want to show off God. It motivates me because when I am on the field and I know God’s got my back. There is nothing our team can’t do.”

A standard has been set for the North Duplin football team led by coach Hugh Martin. “We’re focused on simple things, doing the little things right and whatever comes with us doing our job, that is what comes and we’re okay with that,” Martin said.

Outlaw echoed that statement, but in his own words saying, “The only expectation for this year and every year is to get better. We just have to keep our priorities on God first and stay positive.”

The Rebels are focused. During the summer, the team attended the FCA football camp at the University of Mount Olive and the Tribune published a story on how the entire team was affected.

It says something about the leadership of a program in which one can feel that every player believes in what he’s doing. In fact, the words “All In” are on the helmets of every North Duplin football player. The Rebels believe — not just in wins and losses, but that wins in everyday struggles can lead to greatness.

Outlaw understands wins are great but who is he when the stadium lights aren’t on him is what helps his teammates be “all in”.

“God is everything to me. I just want to be someone that people look at and say, ‘that boy loves God.’ Stats matter but they are not the most important thing. To us and especially me, faith lasts forever.”

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