WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Dec. 19, 2008) -- The Army is again gearing up for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Some of the best high school football players in the United States will go head-to-head Jan. 3 during the All-American Bowl, in a classic East vs. West match-up at San Antonio's Alamodome.

The high school players who compete in the annual game, sponsored by the U.S. Army, will be tomorrow's college and NFL stars.

Xavier Nixon is one of those players. He is a 2009 U.S. Army All-American Player-of-the-Year finalist and played as an offensive lineman at Jack Britt High, Fayetteville, N.C. Both his parents serve in the U.S. Army, and his father is currently deployed to Afghanistan.

Nixon said he's been able to transfer some of the discipline his parents brought home from the Army to his game on the field.

"Both of my parents were drill sergeants while I was growing up in my early stages of life," Nixon said. "It just provided structure and discipline in my life, and all the things that later on allowed me to be a great leader for my team, for my school, for my community -- and to just be a great role model."

Selection to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl is a prestigious honor for athletes. These players truly embody the characteristics of an "Army Strong" Soldier who demonstrates one-of-a-kind mental, emotional and physical strength, said Army Soldier of the Year Spc. David Obray.

"The similarities go beyond the protective gears and uniform that we both wear," Obray said. "Really, the attributes or the elements of the American Soldier are demonstrated by these outstanding individuals during the Army All-American Game. The mental, physical and emotional strength -- that's what makes Army Strong."

Both Obray and Nixon said they look forward to game day, Nixon as a player and Obray as a spectator and fan.

"On game day -- just the atmosphere of the game -- this will be the biggest game of my life," Nixon said. "The U.S. Army All-American Bowl is considered the Superbowl of high school football. It is a great opportunity to play in this game."

Obray said it is the hard work and training of both Soldiers and athletes that allows them to excel. It is what allowed Obray to be named Soldier of the Year at the Army's 2008 Best Warrior Competition, and what allows high school football players to make it to the All-American Bowl.

"Competition breeds excellence and all these players are exhibiting their outstanding talents and the products of their hard training," Obray said.