Bowmen didn't back down from adversity
HILLSBORO - The Sherwood High School football team almost did it again.
The Bowmen were just one point away from winning their second straight Class 5A state championship and putting together their second consecutive perfect season.
That's just plain amazing.
And it's also a credit to the Bowmen players and coaches.
When you look at what they accomplished this year, it's pretty darn impressive.
First of all, the Bowmen lost a lot of key players to graduation from the 2010 team that defeated Marist 26-23 in overtime in the Class 5A state championship game.
They lost players like Michael Balfour, Trent Duppenthaler, Jordan Ramp, Jake Lawrence and Tanner Balderree (just to name a few) - players who are not easily replaced by any means - to graduation.
Then, of course, there was the transfer of star halfback Steven Long to Lake Oswego.
But, as good as Long was at Sherwood, and he was very, very good, that may have not bothered the Bowmen program too much. That's because Sherwood knew it had junior Cristian Morris, a Class 5A state 200-meter sprint champion, set to run the ball this year.
But those plans also went awry, as Morris suffered a season-ending knee injury in Sherwood's first game of the season. The talented Morris finished his season with 10 rushing yards on two carries.
Yet another Sherwood running back, speedy junior Logan Ballarche, suffered a season-ending knee injury in the early part of the schedule.
Other key players, such as seniors Brandon Blackshear and A.J. Spencer, missed time this season due to injuries.
But none of that seemed to deter the Bowmen.
With their depth and determination, they knew they had other players set to step up this year.
And that's just what they did.
Players like senior Paul Dodson, senior Connor Munro, senior Travis Dyer, senior Dylan Flannery, senior Dusty Crabtree, senior Zane Groves, senior Cody Setere, Blackshear, Spencer and senior John Powers - just to name a few - all seemed to elevate their games.
They weren't about to let any sort of adversity stand in their way.
'Overall, we had a lot of injuries, and we lost some kids,' Sherwood coach Greg Lawrence said following the Bowmen's 14-13 setback to Mountain View in the Class 5A state championship game played Saturday at Hillsboro Stadium. 'But these kids never let that effect them. I'm extremely proud of them.'
'We overcome,' Spencer said. 'That's what we do. That's what the coaches taught us.'
'Coach said we worked through so much adversity,' Munro said. 'We filled a lot of holes and spots, and to do this well is amazing. We never gave up.'
Next year, Sherwood will again be looking to replace many key graduated seniors. But, again with their depth and determination, don't be surprised if the Bowmen are once more playing in December.
The Bowmen sure seemed to give it everything they had in Saturday's title game as they looked to win their second straight state championship.
But Mountain View also was ready to leave everything it had on the field.
The Cougars, playing in their first-ever state title tilt, had to be extremely motivated. After all, the last two loses they had came to Sherwood - in a state semifinal game last year, and a 41-18 setback to the Bowmen earlier this season in a non-league game played at Sherwood High School.
It all added up to an intense, physical battle where every yard, every hit, every loose ball, every first down mattered - and it all added up to just a one-point difference.
And, to the Bowmen's credit, they gave well-deserved credit and respect to Mountain View, despite their own disappointment.
'It was one of those games where two teams were smashing heads,' Setere said. 'They just happened to come out on top.'
'It was definitely physical,' Dodson said. 'Both teams fought hard and both teams executed. Congratulations to Mountain View. They played a great game.'
And congratulations to the Sherwood players and coaches. They gave it everything they had. They played hard, and they played with class.
Dan Brood, who is already looking forward to another long Sherwood playoff run next year, is the sports editor at the Times.