By Amanda Groover
The Shady Cove School football season ended precisely as it began; with an overwhelming victory in favor of the Wolverines’ super-star team. In fact, the entire season can be summed up in one sweet word: undefeated. There are only five games in a middle school season, but to the players, it seemed like much more. They poured their hearts into each and every game and their hard work truly paid off. When asked what made this team so good, the eighth graders on the team practically tripped over each other to hand credit to their coaches. “The coaches just know how to pick good plays that work,” says Josh Saenz, 8th grader and starting quarterback. Other players also attribute their success to lots of hard discipline, high expectations, and true belief in the boys’ potential from the coaches. But they also admit they had their struggles to overcome. “The hardest thing for us on the field was not listening to the cadence,” admits Sean Derr. Derr is referring to the signals the quarterback gives to “hike” the ball, which starts the play. “We’d always get our timing wrong or start too early,” adds Mat Weems. Fortunately, the boys were able to recognize this and work as a solid unit to move past this obstacle successfully.
When asked about memorable moments from the season, the boys erupted into stories, interrupting each other in a seemingly undecipherable explosion of happy memories. A few that stood out were in an early game when the quarterback forgot his belt and his pants fell down as he strode across the field. He continued to run, forgetting his pride and scoring the touchdown. Another time, Mat Weems came head-to-head so hard with a Sacred Heart player that both boys were knocked to the ground in a daze. “I’m pretty sure I blacked out for a second there,” he describes. And, who could forget in the final game of the Wolverines’ season when Lucas Ferrell broke his arm. The temperature had dropped so low after the sun went down that Lucas didn’t realize the extent of his injury. He simply popped up from his fall and continued to play the rest of the game. “It didn’t start hurting until we got in the car and I started warming up,” he says. “Then we went to the hospital,” he adds with a smile. And it’s not just all about the memorable plays and exciting games.
Shady Cove School, named a model school for the state of Oregon this year, holds the highest expectations for students, and academics always come first. While some schools have no eligibility requirements for playing, and others require a D- or better, Shady Cove holds students to a higher standard. Any athlete must be passing all classes with a C or better to play. The staff at the school says it ties school and sports together and is very motivating for students. So not only are these boys top-notch athletes, they are academically sound as well. By taking just a few moments to sit and talk with the boys, you can see how this season and the game of football in general makes such a big difference in their lives. For some it will lead to a more serious focus on the game of football, even possibly a career choice. For others, it was simply a time for bonding, for sweating and hard work, and, as the record shows, for winning.