Sportsmanship shines during Happy Valley, Unaka scrimmage

Published 1:34 pm Thursday, August 9, 2018

Sometimes on the gridiron, sportsmanship is put to the side as teams vie for the win.
However, this was not the case this week as the Unaka Rangers visited Warriors Hill to scrimmage Happy Valley.
During the action, Unaka sophomore lineman Colby Jones had to fill in on the defensive line. Jones, who is the starting center for Unaka, hasn’t put in many snaps on defense and when he lined during up the scrimmage, he happened to line up past the line of scrimmage and was flagged for encroachment. Like most players, Jones said he got down on himself for his mistake, but it was at this moment that two Happy Valley Warriors, sophomore Kamden Richardson and senior Matthew Lawson, stepped up and did something that earned them the respect of Jones.
“Usually when I mess up, I am all down on myself, because I know I could do better,” said Jones. “But those linemen came up to me and corrected me. And after that, they just patted me on the back. I just think that is really good sportsmanship. If there is anything that makes me respect another team, it is their sportsmanship.”
Unaka head coach O’Brien Bennett said he feels that the actions of Richardson and Lawson reflect the Happy Valley program as a whole and the work of the Warriors coaching staff.
“First of all, with Happy Valley being a Carter County school, we are supposed to have a big rivalry with them, and we are kind of engrained to dislike those guys,” said Bennett. “I’m the kind of guy and so are my players, we like to see other Carter County schools have success. We are one community. These guys are going to work with each other one day. Their parents work with each other. We all live in the same community and all have the same goals for the community.
“Happy Valley demonstrated it phenomenally well,” added Bennett. “Those guys are a class act. Coach Jarrett has them doing things the way they are supposed to be done.”
The moment that Richardson and Lawson helped Jones was photographed by Jones’ mother and photographer, Jenny Grindstaff Jones. The photo has gained some traction on social media, and coach Bennett said the photo captures what sportsmanship is all about.
“I saw the picture online, and I thought that just embodied the character of their team (Happy Valley),” said Bennett. “Even though we are opponents from the time the ball is snapped to when the whistle is blown, at the end of the day, we are the same residents of the same town. We are all from the same place. I guarantee if somebody tries to come pick a fight with Carter County, folks from Roan Mountains, folks from Hampton, folks from the city, folks from Happy Valley, and folks from Stoney Creek would all be standing side by side right there with each other.”
Upon hearing about what Richardson and Lawson did, Happy Valley head coach Jason Jarrett was pleased with how his players are conducting themselves on the field.
“In today’s world of sports, sometimes, everybody wants to make it all about wins and losses,” said Jarrett. “Obviously, we take pride in racking up as many wins as we can, but at the same time, the ultimate goal as a high school coach is trying to help mentor these teenagers into young men. And, hopefully, they become good productive citizens of society.
“To hear that two of our players, Kamden and Matthew, were reaching out a hand to help an opponent and pat him on the back, that is very rewarding to hear.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox