NEW MADRID COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - If you watched the Super Bowl on Sunday night, you couldn't help but notice former New Madrid County Central Eagle Kony Ealy making his presence known with several big plays.
Carolina Panther defensive end Kony Ealy put on a record breaking performance in a losing effort to the Broncos.
One of Ealy's former high school coaches, Travis Day, said everyone asked him if he saw that impressive interception and return coming.
"Everyone asked me about that interception he had, he played tight end for us, I remember all kinds of one had catches he made in high school for touchdowns and things like that," Day said. "So, him catching that ball didn't surprise me, he's got a good pair of hands."
Ealy's impact included an interception, three sacks and a fumble recovery against Peyton Manning and Denver.
"When you can get a couple sacks on the legend, that's big time, especially when this is probably Peyton Manning's last game," Day said. "He's gonna remember Kony Ealy, so I'm proud of him, this whole community is proud of him."
"He was ready, he was motivated just to be there, he knew what the super bowl was all about and he knew that this was maybe a once in a lifetime chance to get there and do something well and he stepped up," Day said.
Despite the game changing plays that left everyone in awe, a New Madrid County senior athlete still remembers the same old Kony and the advice he offered.
"He always told me to stay focused and stay on my grades and he told me I can be anything I want to be," NMCC athlete Deondray Jenkins said. "I'm glad he didn't change, he always comes back and speaks to the kids around here and let them know they can do anything they set their mind to."
Jenkins said a lot of people get nervous in those situations, but on Sunday night he knew Ealy was going to be up to the challenge.
"He had a great opportunity to succeed and he did," Day said. "He took full advantage of his opportunity and now we are all talking about him and you know that's what I'm proud of him about, that he didn't take for granted of the opportunity he had."
When there's big games coming up, Day said he tells his players to give the game everything they can.
"You just want them to compete you know, go out and give 110 percent of everything," Day said. "You got don't leave anything by chance, what we mean by that is, don't go after the game and look at that guy in the mirror like I could have gave more, and I think Kony gave everything he had last night."
When Ealy attended New Madrid County Central High School, Day said the athlete had his share of sacks while playing football.
"He did a bunch of that here in high school, and that's how he came on MU's radar," Day said. "He would make big play, after big play, for us in high school and he's still doing it."
When it comes to staying focused as an athlete in high pressure situations like a big game or a Super Bowl, Jenkins said you just have to stay focused.
"You always just have to stay focused and [meet] your goals, a lot of people get nervous in those situations, you always have to stay focused and continue playing ball," Jenkins said.
Jenkins added that Kony Ealy is like another big brother to him.
"[Kony Ealy] and my brother graduated and played sports together," Jenkins said. "So, whenever he comes home, he comes to my grandma's, and my house. Growing up I was at every game, and tried to be at every game, and they are still really close."
Day said when there are people who don't like to watch football but are watching the Super Bowl to watch Kony Ealy that's something to be proud of.