Before the Monsignor Martin Association championship game between St. Joe's and St. Francis Thursday, St. Joe's Coach Dennis Gilbert addressed his team in a locker room inside the tunnel at Ralph C. Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park.
Gilbert, who had coached the Marauders to a 27-20 victory over St. Francis in Week Five, stood on top of a chair and read a note from Sean Ryan, a St. Joe's graduate from the Class of '99. Ryan played football at St. Joe's before playing at Boston College and then taking his career to the NFL for six years. He was inducted into the SJCI Hall of Fame Friday night. Gilbert had asked him to be the team's honorary captain for the championship game, but due to business obligations, Ryan was unable to make it to town in time. He asked that Gilbert read the note to his team before they took the field.
St. Joe's fell to St. Francis that night, 37-16, but to me, the speech represented much more than just a game. The words of Ryan, who has experienced football success at the highest level, represented all that is pure about high school sports. At a time when corruption and wrong seem to pop up more and more often in sports, this speech represents what is right.
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