Pierce football lauded for sportsmanship
High school athletics is about more than competition. It's about teaching young adults life lessons on how to handle success and disappointment.
Every year, the Northern California Football Officials Association selects two Northern Section schools that achieved the highest sportsmanship ratings throughout the season. Pierce High earned the honor for the section's southern region.
Coach Scott Burnum's team experienced a rollercoaster year that ended during the first round of the playoffs against Durham in November.
Throughout the season, the Bears employed their usual brand of steady, ball-control, defense-oriented play, but they finished tied with Willows for third in the Sacramento Valley League.
During the course of the year, the Bears suffered several heartbreaking losses that served as learning experiences for the young men on the team.
Pierce lost to Colusa on a blocked field goal — a RedHawks blocked field goal. The RedHawks were attempting a long field goal at the end of the game. The Bears blocked it. In the confusion afterward, a Colusa player picked up the ball and ran it in for a touchdown.
"We talked about it a little bit that week, and then we just went about our business," Burnum said. "It's a small town, so everybody always brings it up, but we just have to laugh about it. We just went on our way. Time healed the wound, as they say."
In the final game of the regular season, with a shot at earning a share of the league title on the line, the Bears fell to bitter league rival Willows 14-13 in overtime when a 2-point conversion pass fell incomplete.
After losing just three games combined in the two previous seasons, the Bears went 6-5 this season, but they never gave up.
"Our team was very, very physical. They didn't quit," Burnum said. "We faced it pretty well. They came back and put the hat on people."
The Bears also won the award in 2003 after losing in the section championship game to Willows. The Bears came back and won the section title the next year.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 749-4789