Class in victory, and defeat

Posted by Staff Writer Eric Branch:
NFL running backs who rush for 1,000 yards have been known to reward their offensive linemen with Rolexes or Hawaiian vacations.
Cash-strapped high school kids can’t pull that off. But compliments are free.
I covered two games over the weekend – Analy’s 48-7 win over El Molino and Petaluma’s 40-14 victory against Casa Grande – and after both contests the star running backs took pains to praise their offensive line.
Analy rushed for 222 yards and Cooper Maloney (108 yards) made it sound like he could have crawled for big gains thanks to the work up front by Brandon Ribeli, Robert Leon, Kia Fuiava, Sean Benfield and Jimmy Pitkin. Petaluma rolled up 371 yards rushing and Sean Sullivan (193 yards) said he had multiples holes to choose from, lanes opened up by Reggie Baker, Jeremy Mahrt, Sean Swanson, Justin Wambold and Nick Ziegenhagen.
It was a classy move by those players to share the spotlight in victory. And it was also impressive to see the way Casa Grande junior quarterback Nick Sherry handled defeat.
Sherry, who had earned rave reviews in his first four varsity starts, smacked into his first bit of adversity against Petaluma. He threw four interceptions, lost a fumble and completed 9 of 21 passes for 82 yards.
I wanted to speak with Sherry after the game, but I knew from experience that such situations can be difficult.
After an athletic failure, many teenagers, understandably, aren’t eager, or even able, to discuss their shortcomings with a stranger poised with a notebook and tape recorder. But Sherry stood tall, faced the music, accepted responsibility – pick the cliché – and he embodied it.
He said he felt some big-game pressure, a rare admission for an athlete at any level, and pledged to learn from his mistakes and get better.
No doubt he will. But grace in defeat isn’t something he needs to work on.