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Winning isn't always the most important thing

by: DAN BROOD - BOWMEN LINE -- The Sherwood High School football team lines up following Saturday's Class 5A state championship game. There’s a lot to like about sports.

There’s something special about being part of a team.

It’s fun to compete.

The preparation, the friendships, the accomplishments and the camaraderie are all rewarding.

And, of course, it’s joyful when you win.

Championship celebrations, trophies and medals all have special meanings.

But, there’s more to sports than just winning.

Not everyone can win.

In fact, for every winner, there’s a team, or individual, who didn’t win (except, of course, in my nine-year-old daughter’s youth soccer league).

And there’s something to be said about being a gracious loser — there’s something that is very special and very gratifying about that.

And that brings me to the Sherwood High School football team.

The Bowmen, especially their large group of seniors, have been putting in hours upon hours, and years upon years, of hard work, getting ready for this season.

Coming off a 2012 that saw them go undefeated and win the Class 5A state championship, they wanted to repeat that feat and stake a claim to being the classification’s best-ever team before they made the jump up to the Class 6A level in the 2014-2015 school year.

Well, the Sherwood squad had a dominating regular season, going 9-0 while never being challenged.

It was the same for the Bowmen in their first three state playoff games, as they rolled past Churchill, Crescent Valley and Ashland, putting them in the state championship game for the fourth straight year.

In Saturday’s title game, played at Hillsboro Stadium, Sherwood faced West Albany. The teams had already met earlier in season, with the Bowmen scoring a 48-0 win.

But the rematch was different.

The Bulldogs played an inspired game, and they had a solid defensive game plan.

The Sherwood squad also played its heart out — from start to finish.

It was a classic, hard-fought battle, with some big-time hitting, and every yard had to be earned.

But, in the end, the Bowmen suffered a heart-breaking setback, falling 21-20 in overtime.

Yes, there were plenty of tears on the Sherwood side of the field after the game.

But there were no excuses and no whining.

That doesn’t mean that the Bowmen didn’t have reason to be upset — such as the West Albany TD reception where the receiver appeared to come down out of bounds, and the iffy pass interference call during overtime — but, again there were no excuses.

Every Sherwood player I talked to after the game, and I talked to a bunch of them, handled the disappointing setback with dignity and class.

I made sure to mention that to Sherwood coach Greg Lawrence, and that brought a smile to his face.

The Bowmen players made sure to give credit, rightfully so, to West Albany. They also talked about how special their season was, and some even looked at the big picture.

“West Albany played a heck of a game,” Sherwood senior quarterback Kevin Larkin said. “They gave us a real battle. Props to West Albany and props to us. It was a heck of a game, and they were ready.

“Not winning isn’t a good feeling, but this is something we’ll take with us, and it will help us, for the rest of our lives.”

“They played better than we did,” Sherwood senior lineman Travis Kotowski said. “But I have no doubts that we played our hearts out. I couldn’t be more proud.

“We’ll remember this feeling. The juniors will remember it and come out and play that much harder next year.”

“It was a great game, and it was a fun game,” Sherwood senior running back Keegan Lawrence said. “It was a lot of fun to basically play five quarters. We didn’t win, but, oh well. Going through this will make us stronger, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Well said, and great season. Congratulations.

*****

I didn’t get to see the Tigard-Central Catholic Class 6A state playoff semifinal game on Saturday due to the time conflict with Sherwood’s state championship contest (thanks for nothing, OSAA).

by: DAN BROOD - SUPER SENIORS -- The seniors on the Tigard High School football team gather together following their win over North Medford in a Class 6A state playoff quarterfinal game.But, reading Matt Singledecker’s game story, it sounds like the Tigers showed the same positive attributes that the Bowmen did — they played their hearts out until the end, and then handled the situation with dignity and class.

That doesn’t surprise me at all.

The Tigers, like Sherwood, seem to have a strong leadership presence, from both their coaching staff and their seniors.

Tigard coach Craig Ruecker, like Lawrence — and I’ll put Tualatin coach Rob Hastin and Horizon Christian coach George Crace in this group as well — seems to truly care about his players, not just about wins and losses.

They all preach hard work, along with growth, both on and off the field.

I think the local high school football players, and their families, are very lucky.

*****

A number of times throughout the season, I was asked who I thought would win a game between Tigard and Sherwood.

Now, I might not be very smart, but I’m smart enough not to venture a such a prognostication.

Luckily, next year, no one will have to try and make such guesses, as Tigard and Sherwood will get to battle it out on the football field.

Both of those schools, along with Tualatin and Newberg, will join Lake Oswego, Lakeridge, West Linn and Canby in the Three Rivers League.

And what a league that is going to be.

Of course, the games I’ll be looking forward to most are Tigard vs. Tualatin, Tualatin vs. Sherwood and Sherwood vs. Tigard.

I can hardly wait.

Dan Brood, whose Tahoma High School football teams never even qualified for the state playoffs, is the sports editor at The Times.



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