At the end of the speeches, and before he could get a bite to eat for the lunch he's partially responsible for, Cathedral's Matthew Owens was still starstruck.
"Two words: First pitch," Owens said. He was still excited about being invited by Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino to throw out the first pitch for a game this upcoming season.Owens, along with his Cathedral high school football teammates, school cheerleaders and brass, were honored by Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino at Legal Seafoods in the Seaport District following the team's controversial loss to Blue Hills in the Division 4A Super Bowl at Bentley University Dec. 4. Menino brought together a collection of Boston sports figures to celebrate Cathedral's near-win, including Lucchino, new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, former Patriots linebacker Teddy Bruschi, Boston College head coach Frank Spaziani and ESPN sportscaster Sean McDonough.
However, it was Owens that was the man of the hour. On Dec. 3, Owens sprinted untouched from 56 yards out to the end zone against Blue Hills, scoring what would have been a go-ahead touchdown with six minutes remaining in the Division 4A Super Bowl. Mid run, 25 yards from paydirt, he raised his arm and pumped his fist for a few seconds. He was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, negating the touchdown. Blue Hills went on to win the game, 16-14.
The backlash over the call immediately ensued, grabbing national attention.
Menino, among others, said it was a bad call that robbed Cathedral of the win. Not too long after, he proposed Tuesday's lunch.
"I think there was a little injustice there," Menino said. "I mean we all played sports. We all showed some excitement. For the young man to do what he did, he was excited."
The mayor's special guests expressed similar sentiments. But they also told Cathedral's football team to be good losers.
"It's hard to avoid the clichés that will inevitably spring to mind," Lucchino said. "But I do think that there is a lesson here about the injustices of life and the randomness of life, and the good fortune and bad fortune of life. These players have learned [that] early on and how one adjusts to that and moves on from that. I know it sounds cliché. But ultimately that is a very valuable lesson and it takes a lot of us much longer than 17 years to learn it."
Said Bruschi: "A lot of the talk is about the call. The call during the game. But guys, it's not about the call. It's about how you move on from the call. Because this is what sports is. Sports is winning and sports is losing. Sports is about winning championships and losing championships ... It's how you move on from that. No matter how you lose the game. It's how you move on from defeat."
It was Bobby Valentine's first public appearance in Boston as the Red Sox manager. He told the team to live as the champions they are.
"You're here today because of what you did, not what you didn't do," Valentine said. "You're here because you're champions."
Several reporters and editors contribute updates, news and analysis to the High School Sports Blog.
- Bob Holmes: A Reading resident (Go Rockets!) and Boston College graduate, Holmes is the Boston Globe High School Sports Editor. We remind you now that his weekly picks are often made in jest so everyone just calm down when he picks against Everett for 11 straight weeks. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeHolmes.
- Craig Larson: A native of West Springfield (Leo Durocher anyone? Tim Daggett?) and Curry College graduate (a proud Colonel!), Larson is the sports editor for the Globe's regional sections: South, West and North, as well as a frequent contributor on the college beat. Abington to Xaverian: it all starts with the schools. Have a compelling story idea? Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeLars.
- Zuri Berry: Berry attended the same high school as sports legends O.J. Simpson and Joe DiMaggio. (Guess which one is his hero.) He's a South Boston resident (formerly of Eastie) and the editor of the High School Sports blog as well as the go-to-guy for everything high school sports on Boston.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GlobeSchools for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our winter correspondents:
- Emily McCarthy | @EmilyMcCahthy | BPS correspondent
- Jake Fischer | @GlobeFischer | Boys basketball
- Michelle Fenelon | @michfenelon | Girls basketball
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Boys hockey
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls hockey
To reach the high school sports department, e-mail email@example.com.