Ten Moments To Savor
By Bob Holmes, Globe Staff
For every team boasting an unbeaten season, there is a winless one two towns away. For each All-Scholastic athlete, there are a dozen others, not equally talented, but working toward the same goal. Coaches teach and encourage, prod and push, trying to turn children into champions. For some, the payoff is huge. Nothing can match the satisfaction enjoyed by an handful of teams and individuals this past fall. Selecting 10 worthy success stories from a season filled with hundreds of candidates isn't easy. But here, in no particular order, are 10 we thought stood out.
1. Sherr's days at AP are numbered
Numbers don't always tell the story but in the case of Nathan Sherr, they tell an amazing story. Austin Prep's senior running back finished his career as the all-time leading scorer in state history with 682 points. He's the first player in history to lead Eastern Massachusetts in scoring three straight years, and in two of those years he led the state in scoring as well. His 4,354 rushing yards places him 17th on the all-time list. As coach Bill Maradei said after Sherr ran for 160 yards on Thanksgiving, ''Sherr takes beatings and he gives out beatings. Without him, we would have been a different team.''
2. The guys who made it all possible
Nathan Sherr didn't do it on his own. He a little help ..... actually, some big help. In linemen Bill Murray, Mark Parr, John Smyth, Kyle Vieira, Mike Magliochetti, Clancy Main, Dan Morris, Jim Wilkie, and Matt Bouvier, Austin Prep had a talented group, dedicated to opening holes for their equally talented teammate. Sherr would be the first to tell you, he couldn't have done it without them. Sherr had 651 career carries, and on each play these guys did everything possible to open the slightest hole. Their names rarely appeared in any game story. But today they should stand and take a bow.
3. Caldwell leads Wamps to second state title
The defending state champion Braintree girls soccer team entered the tournament with players slowed by injury and a No. 11 seed. Hardly the stuff of title contenders. But when the spotlight was turned on, Braintree came alive, led by its Division 1 Player of the Year Amy Caldwell. An injury had kept Caldwell on the sidelines mid-way thru the season and her return was slow and cautious. But in the tournament she was the old Amy, finishing her career with four goals in a 6-1 defeat of Ludlow. ''I'm not sure what the right word is, but it's very exciting,'' said coach Fred Marks. ''I'm pretty humbled by it.''
4. 200-win club gets four new members
It takes a long time and a lot of patience to win 200 high school football games. But this fall the 200-win club added four new members in West Roxbury's Leo Sybertz, Lincoln-Sudbury's Tom Lopez, Foxboro's Jack Martinelli, and Blue Hills Vin Hickey. Combined, the four have almost 120 years of head coaching experience and more than 800 wins. Sybertz was the first to win 200 at a Boston public school, hitting the milestone in a win over Hyde Park last month. ''Getting his 200th win as a city coach just shows his comittment to the inner-city kids,'' said former West Roxbury All-Scholastic Duke Pettijohn. Martinelli won't forget his 200th, a win over Burlington in the Division 2 Super Bowl.
5. Field of dreams for Walpole and Canton
46-0-3. Think about that record for a moment. In the Walpole and Canton field hockey teams, fans got to watch two near-perfect teams. Walpole went 23-0-1, beating Falmouth for the South sectional title, North Andover in the EMass championship and Notre Dame of Worcester in the state Division 1 final. The Porkers are now 10-0 in state championship games. Canton wasn't too shabby either, going 21-0-2. The Bulldogs beat Medfield in the South final, Watertown for the EMass title, and Quaboag for the Division 2 state title. There's more good news for Canton. Both its All-Scholastics, Arielle Spadea and Catherine O'Brien, are juniors.
6. 99 - You'll always come back for more
About the only complaint with the Barnstable volleyball program is that coach Tom Turco should have scheduled one more regular-season game. That way, in addition to winning the Division 1 state title, in addition to finishing 26-0, the victory in the state title game would have been the Red Raiders 100th in a row. But 25-0, and 99 straight, isn't too bad either. And there's nothing like starting the 2007 season off with a milestone win. How good was Barnstable? The Red Raiders didn't lose a game all year, including 3-0 tournament wins over New Bedford (22-0 going into match), Lincoln-Sudbury (23-0), and Newton North (22-1).
7. Barton family goes 1-for-2 on title day
Saturday, Nov. 18, was a special one in the Barton family residence. Daughter Jessica, a senior at Newton North, awoke, dressed, and headed to Northfield Mountain in pursuit of the Division 1 state cross-country championship. Dad (Richard) could sleep in. The Division 1 state volleyball final between his Newton North girls and Barnstable wasn't until 6 p.m. But instead of a fairy tale ending, it was more a split decision. Jessica won the Division 1 race, finishing the difficult course in 19:14, more than 12 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher. Richard didn't fare as well, as the Tigers fell to Barnstable, 3-0.
8. Up, down, all around in a record time
There's nothing easy about the cross-country course at Northfield Mountain. The ''Mountain'' portion of the title should have tipped you off. But last month Mansfield's Ryan Collins broke the course record in winning the Division 1 state title in 15:48. ''It's great to break the course record,'' said Collins. ''I had no intention of doing that. I was pretty comfortable with the hills.'' Like Jessica Barton, there was a family member involved. Ryan's mother Julie is also his coach. ''He's progressed so much over the last four years. He's a great hill runner, both uphill and downhill, and all the work he's done to get stronger has paid off.''
9. Andover's depth produces No. 8
Do they have a motto for next fall yet? If 8 is great, then what would nine state titles in a row say? The Andover girls swim team made it eight straight titles this fall, holding off the charge of Chelmsford and Acton-Boxboro, not with speedy superstars, but rather with depth, depth, and more depth. ''The first one was great because it was unexpected,'' said coach Marilyn Fitzgerald. ''But actually, this one feels the best of them all.'' Andover had just three individual champions, including a first ever diving champion, but it was the team's overall depth that was the difference. ''We had 19 kids here today, and it was our strength that set us apart.''
10. Fourth down? That was fourth down?
The most amazing thing about Everett's Division 1 Super Bowl win was a call by coach John DiBiaso early in the second quarter. Facing fourth-and-1 from his own 16, Everett went for it. And it wasn't after a timeout or even a brief discussion. It was just assumed. And forget the result (an 84-yard TD run by Isaac Johnson - it was the decision that was pure Everett confidence. Credit should go to the Crimson offensive linemen as well. It's one thing to make the call... it's another to carry it out. ''We were hoping to catch them off guard,'' said DiBiaso after. He did, and as usual it worked to perfection.