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Competitor and Champion

Joseph Balfour shined for the title-winning Sherwood football and baseball teams


by: DAN BROOD - CHAMPION -- Joseph Balfour, a 2013 Sherwood High School graduate, played for two state champions Bowmen football teams and two title-winning baseball squads.SHERWOOD — Joseph Balfour learned at an early age to be competitive.

He had to.

After all, he had two athletic, older brothers.

So, growing up, Balfour, a 2013 Sherwood High School graduate, tried his best to keep up with older brothers David and Michael.

“I think every afternoon, it was sports and fights,” Balfour said with a laugh. “I think I always had a chip on my shoulder, even playing wiffle ball. But we grew close. It helped a lot, growing up in that environment. It pushed me — I wanted to be better than my brothers.”

Balfour also showed at an early age that he had the potential to be a special athlete.

“The first time I met him, he was in third grade and attending our summer camp,” Sherwood High School baseball coach Jon Strohmaier said. “I watched him swing a bat and said ‘don’t change a thing.’ I’ve known for a long time that he was special.”

That competitive spirit, and that natural athletic ability, sure seemed to pay off in a big way for Balfour during his athletic career at Sherwood High School.

As a three-year varsity player for the Bowmen baseball and football teams, the youngest Balfour brother accomplished a lot.

In fact, there’s one feat that David and Michael Balfour, both former Sherwood High School star athletes, have to envy.

During his time at Sherwood, Joseph Balfour played in five state championship games — three in football, two in baseball — coming out on the winning side in four of those title games.

“That just speaks of his athleticism,” Strohmaier said.

“It’s pretty special that he was able to do that,” Sherwood football coach Greg Lawrence said. “Joe is just himself. He always made big plays in big games. He’s just one of those kids that the other kids look up to.”

Sitting near the football field at Sherwood’s Aaron J. Contreras Memorial Stadium, Joseph Balfour gets a smile on his face as he thinks back on his accomplishments with the Bowmen teams.

“The last four years have been great at Sherwood,” he said. “The coaches have been great. My teammates have been great. We all had a strong chemistry — hanging out and playing sports. I’m going to miss it.”

The four state titles are also special.

“I’m very lucky to have that happen,” he said. “Most people get just one chance. I was so fortunate to play in five state championship games and to win four. It was great.”

Now, Balfour has another title. It’s not another state championship, but he is The Times’ Athlete of the Year from Sherwood High School. The honor goes to the top senior-class athlete, as seen by The Times, at the school for the 2012-2013 school year.

“Joe came from a line of good brothers,” Lawrence said. “And, being the youngest, he learned a lot. But he’s his own person. He has all the qualities of a great team leader.”

“He’s been a fantastic kid the four years he was here,” Strohmaier said.

by: DAN BROOD - SMOOTH QB -- Joseph Balfour (left) throws a pass for the Bowmen in their state playoff semifinal win over Silverton.Gridiron glory

Balfour got his first taste of a state championship when he was a sophomore on the Bowmen football squad that bested Marist 26-23 in overtime in the 2010 Class 5A state championship game.

Balfour mainly played on the special teams, and on the scout team, for that Bowmen championship squad.

“That was my brother’s year,” Balfour said, referring to Michael, who was a star fullback and linebacker for that Sherwood title-winning team. “But it was still great.”

As a junior, Balfour was a key defensive player for the Sherwood team that was edged 14-13 by Mountain View in the 2011 state championship game — that would be the only loss Balfour would experience playing football at Sherwood.

This past fall, as a senior, the 6-foot, 175-pound Balfour played a huge role for the Sherwood team that went 13-0 on the season, including a 46-20 thumping of Marist in the 2012 Class 5A state championship game.

Balfour started at quarterback on offense and at strong safety/outside linebacker on defense.

As quarterback, Balfour guided Sherwood’s run-oriented, but complex, offensive attack.

“There’s a lot of responsibility and leadership,” he said. “By the end of the year, we had everything down.”

“You knew that, when the ball was in his hands, good things would happen,” Lawrence said. “And, in big games, you could really see his leadership.”

For the season, Balfour completed 39 of 77 pass attempts for 656 yards and nine touchdowns. He earned All-Northwest Oregon Conference honorable mention accolades at quarterback.

But, Balfour really made his presence known on defense for the Bowmen.

Seemingly always swarming to the ball, Balfour had six quarterback sacks, three interceptions and three fumble recoveries on the season.

He was named the Northwest Oregon Conference Defensive Player of the Year and he shared the Class 5A Defensive Player of the Year honors with Silverton’s Chris Garcia.

“Baseball was always my sport, so this was real special to me,” Balfour said of the Defensive Player of the Year honor. “It showed that all the hard work paid off. My senior year, I matured a lot. I got stronger, and it showed.”

Balfour may have had his best overall game of the season in the Bowmen’s 46-19 win over Silverton in the semifinal round of the state playoffs. In that game, Balfour threw a 35-yard touchdown pass on offense and he had both an interception and a fumble recovery on defense.

“His interception turned the game around,” Lawrence said.

That semifinal win put the Bowmen into the title tilt against Marist.

“We were just focused and really ready for that game,” Balfour said.

But there was still some drama very late in the contest, as Balfour was trying to convince Lawrence to put the starters back in for the final kneel down of the game.

“I kept working him to put us back in,” Balfour said. “He let us do it.”

After the final kneel down, Balfour put an index finger high in the air and embraced senior lineman Harrison Shelburne.

“That was a great moment,” he said. “I was happy that we finished what we worked so hard to achieve.”

Diamond gem

As was the case in football, Balfour, as a sophomore, was part of the Sherwood baseball team that defeated rival Wilsonville 6-3 in the 2011 Class 5A state championship game.

by: DAN BROOD - BRINGING THE HEAT -- Joseph Balfour gets ready to fire in a pitch during a state playoff semifinal game.That season, power-hitting senior Michael Balfour was slated to play in right field for the Bowmen, but an injury kept him out of the lineup for a good part of the year.

Joseph Balfour stepped into that right field spot.

“I got to play because my brother got hurt. I still thank him for that,” Balfour said with a laugh.

In the 2011 state title game, the younger Balfour went 2 for 3 at the plate with a run scored and an RBI.

As a junior Balfour shined at third base and as a closer on the mound for the Bowmen team that reached the semifinal round of the state playoffs.

Expectations were high going into his senior year, but there was one problem — Balfour was suffering from elbow tendonitis in his throwing arm.

He was regulated to playing at first base for the Bowmen for most of the season.

“I didn’t want to be a designated hitter,” he said.

But, still, Balfour was clamoring to get back on the mound.

“I had acupuncture treatment,” he said. “I didn’t expect much, but it helped. It gradually got better, and the doctor said it was my call. I kept working coach to let me throw some bullpen.”

Balfour pitched one inning during the regular season, coming in a late-season contest against Parkrose.

But, when the state playoffs rolled around, Balfour found himself back in the closer role — and, wow, did he ever come through.

In Sherwood’s four state playoff victories, including an 11-4 win over Bend in the Class 5A state championship game, Balfour picked up two wins and two saves pitching in relief.

“That was pretty good for not pitching all year,” Balfour said with a smile.

“His playoff run was amazing,” Strohmaier said. “He was our MVP, along with Riley Moore.”

Balfour pitched the final five innings in a wild 5-4, 11-inning win over Redmond in the semifinals. He also had a key two-run double in that game.

The title-game win over Bend, Balfour went 3 for 5 at the plate with a run scored and two RBIs. He also pitched the final two innings of the contest to record his second postseason save.

Balfour got Bend’s Sami Godlove to ground out to Zak Taylor at shortstop for the final out of the title tilt. Soon after, he met his senior battery mate, Jacob Urbach, at the bottom of the celebratory dog pile.

“That was a lot of fun,” Balfour said.

Balfour was one of 12 seniors that played for the Sherwood championship baseball team.

“Our team was really close,” he said. “Most of us had played together since third or fourth grade. That made it really special. It was the best way to end — it couldn’t have been any better.”

by: DAN BROOD - STATE STAR -- Joseph Balfour played on four state championship teams at Sherwood High School.The family that plays together

Balfour gives a lot of credit for his success to his family, especially his parents, Clark and Mary Beth Balfour.

“My dad has done a ton for me,” he said. “He got me out there and he taught me a lot. My mom is at every game. She looks out for me.”

And then there are the older brothers.

“I got close with Michael,” he said. “In his senior year, we got to share some memories.”

Michael Balfour is currently playing football at Oregon State University.

David Balfour, the oldest brother, played college football at Linfield College in McMinnville. Now, he is an assistant football coach back at Sherwood.

Staying busy

Balfour has had a hectic summer. He played in the Oregon All-Star Baseball Series and, a week later, he played in the Les Schwab Bowl all-star football game.

Now, he’s playing baseball for the NW Star Academy team, a squad mainly made up of college players.

He’s also getting ready for college, as he’ll continue his scholastic baseball career at Saint Martin’s University, located in Lacey, Wash. He’ll likely play in the middle infield for the Saints.

“I should get a good education there,” Balfour said. “It will be a challenge at the next level, but I’m going to do my best to take that next step.”

What else would you expect from a competitor and a champion?



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