NATIONAL SIGNING DAY: Jacksonville High sends 7 to the next level

Jacksonville High School student-athletes signing scholarship offers on Wednesday morning included, left to right, Alexia Moreira (soccer, Tyler Junior College), Citlalli Medellin (soccer, Jacksonville College), Marina Villanueva (soccer, Jacksonville College), Raul Arrendondo (soccer, Jacksonville College), Deshawn McCuin (football, TCU), Keshoddreyun Fuller (football, Louisiana College) and T.J. Ratliffe (football, Oklahoma Baptist University).

Jacksonville High School certainly made its contribution to National Signing Day, as seven student-athletes representing Fightin' Indian football, Fightin' Maiden soccer and Tribe soccer took part in a signing ceremony that was held inside a jammed-pack Jacksonville Commons early Wednesday morning.

Members of the Jacksonville football team signing their respective names on the dotted line included Deshawn McCuin (an early period Texas Christian University signee), T.J. Ratliffe (Oklahoma Baptist University, NCAA Division II) and Keshoddreyun Fuller (Louisiana College, NCAA Division III).

A trio of girls will be moving on from Fightin' Maiden soccer to the collegiate level in the near future.

Heading to Tyler Junior College is Alexia Moreira. Citlalli Medellin and Marina Villanueva opted to join the Jacksonville College program.

Also signing with Jacksonville College was one of Tribe soccer's standouts, Raul Arredondo.

In his opening statement Jacksonville athletic director and head football coach Wayne Coleman reflected on how special the day was, and that it was the result of many years of hard work on the fields, in some cases playing on select teams across the country during the summer, and the commitment to academics that each young man and young woman that was seated at the signing table possess.

“We actually have quite a few other athletes who are talented enough to be playing at the next level, but without taking care of the academics, you can't move forward,” he said. “Kudos to these kids (the signees) for doing what it takes, both on and off the field, to be able to move on.”

Ratliffe transferred to Jacksonville from Elysian Fields High School prior to his junior season.

He said moving to Jacksonville and playing Fightin' Indian football for the past two seasons has really benefited him.

“I think playing here in Jacksonville helped me get the exposure that I needed,” he said. “I don't think Oklahoma Baptist would have seen me otherwise.”

Ratliffe, who is projected to play outside linebacker for the Bison, said he believes Oklahoma Baptist is the right fit for him.

“I like the family aspect of Oklahoma Baptist,” he said. “Not only athletically, but I feel if I go through a rough spot in the road there are people up there that will help me get through those times.”

Oklahoma Baptist is located in Shawnee, Okla, which is 39 miles east of Oklahoma City.

Moreira said signing with Tyler Junior College was an easy decision for her.

“I have played for four years on a club team that is coached by the TJC coach (Corey Rose) and I know that I will feel comfortable in playing there,” she said. “I feel he (Rose) knows me well and knows how to get me to play my best.

“Also TJC has a great soccer program and it is close to home.”

Although Moreira has accomplished so much on the pitch — she was district most valuable player last season — she reflected much of her accomplishments to others.

“I would not be here today without Santiago Melchor motivating me to play club soccer; Coach Jesus, the coach that really developed me, the support of my parents and the support of Mr. and Mrs. Austin.”

With three members of his team receiving offers to continue their respective soccer careers at the collegiate level, Fightin' Maiden head soccer coach Colten McCown revealed the importance of the fete.

“When we got here it became one of our goals to get some of our players to the next level,” he said. “When we have girls that can get their college paid for, and continue to play soccer, it motivates the (younger) girls and lets them know that what we are doing is more than just playing soccer and that they too can have an opportunity to do the same.”