The Palmer Ridge and Pine Creek football programs are doing something right.
And I don’t just mean by winning.
On Friday night, during one of the most highly anticipated season-opening matchups in the state, I witnessed a level of maturity and gratification from both teams that I’ve never seen from any high school program.
These players battled during every play, but after the whistle blew, they were there to help each other back up again.
As the clock ticked down in Pine Creek’s 27-12 victory over Palmer Ridge, the Eagle offense took a knee. Both teams got up as the clock expired and they joined together in hugs and handshakes. And after team meetings, the programs came together in prayer at the 50-yard line.
Even at the high school level, ego can sometimes get in the way. And it’s refreshing to see such maturity and high level of sportsmanship come from two talented programs.
Pine Creek coach Todd Miller and Palmer Ridge coach Tom Pulford are doing something right.
Pulford and Miller both guide their programs to a high-level of success on the field, and off, and put a large emphasis on integrity and brotherhood.
“These guys work really hard and I’m proud of what they do in the weight room, but I’m most impressed by how they treat each other,” Miller said at CHSAA media day. “The hardest thing in life is just to be humble. And that’s been the kind of thing that I’ve seen grow in the past could of years as we become a pretty good program.”
These teams have a long history, and this particular group of athletes - stacked with talent - have been playing together for years.
Palmer Ridge quarterback Ty Evans and Pine Creek running back David Moore III, along with others, grew up playing youth football together. Evans and Pine Creek quarterback Gavin Herberg train together on a weekly basis at Jenkins Elite.
“Some of them are past teammates so it’s nice to see a bunch of old friends, and I train with Ty weekly, and he’s a great athlete and always fun to be around,” Herberg said.
While being the best on the field is an admirable goal, sometimes being a good teammate and competitor says more than the final score.