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Unger issues a public apology to Willamina

Nov 20, 2012 | 7 Comments


By Ben Schorzman
For the News-Register



Late in Dayton’s 54-20 win vs. Willamina in the 3A state quarterfinals Friday, Dayton quarterback Nathan Bernards took a two-step drop, turned to his right and threw a short swing pass to receiver Justin Sutton.

Sutton did the rest, taking the ball 53 yards for the touchdown with 4:44 left in the fourth quarter.

While Pirates fans cheered the touchdown, Dayton coach Brodie Unger ran a few paces down the sidelines and screamed.

“No!”

He was so furious that his team had scored again that he stalked off to the opposite side of the field, along the way tossing his headset at the bench, the earphones getting stuck in the mud.

Not exactly the typical reaction you’d expect after a touchdown, but then again, Unger isn’t exactly the typical coach either.

“To all the Willamina fans, players and coaches,” Unger said in his postgame talk, “there was a complete misunderstanding (on that final touchdown), and that’s something we don’t stand for or condone.”

“That’s just the type of guy he is,” Dayton receiver Forrest Garcia said.

If you haven’t gathered by now, Unger was apologizing for seemingly running up the score. His team was up 47-20 with five minutes left in the game. There was no need to throw the ball, and he was mortified when his play call to Bernards got misunderstood and he saw his senior quarterback dropping back.

Unger wanted to make it very clear that’s not what Dayton football is about.

“That was by no means on purpose,” Unger said. “I take full responsibility under my watch. I publicly apologize to Willamina fans, players and coaches. That was by no means my intentions.”

Senior receiver Jered White said the confusion occurred because Unger’s call was misheard. The Pirates change their play calls around, and Bernards supposedly heard a play with the word “green” in it, inidcating a pass.

“He got ‘Green something,’ and he wasn’t sure,” White said. “He wanted to ask, but he didn’t want to get the penalty so he just called it and it just happened.”

To Bernards’ credit, he also realized what the touchdown pass would look like to Willamina.

“He went over and apologized to them and told them it wasn’t supposed to happen,” White said.

Willamina coach Tim France understood and wasn’t upset by touchdown. He said that was football, and it was his defense’s job to try and stop the Pirates from scoring. Of course, had the Pirates reacted differently and celebrated the score excessively instead of apologizing, he might have thought it was classless, but as it stood, he had nothing but good things to say about Dayton and its program.

The way the situation was handled by Unger should be noted by all coaches. Sports are about more than just who wins and who loses, though you can probably find those out there who disagree with that. Like anything else, reputations are made based on how other people observe athletes and coaches acting during a contest. Certain towns and teams can earn poor reputations for how they treat other teams.

It’s one thing to win, but to win with class is something that transcends the contest and creates respect between opponents.

As Garcia puts it, “We don’t want to show any bad class.”

That’s exactly right, and more people should do the same.

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Comments

08:29 am - Wed, November 21 2012
oldmoldy said:
This is just another example of how our society has changed for the worse. When I played football we played to win no matter what the score ended up. You are not doing the players any favors by limiting the number of points scored on them you are just showing them that winning can be just as bad as losing.
03:27 pm - Tue, November 27 2012
Roxy said:
i don't get it....aren't you supposed to try to get as many "points" as you can? how would that be showing bad class? it's not like the other team doesn't know what they are there for or they were taken advantage of....am i misisng something???!?
10:22 pm - Fri, November 30 2012
Mack said:
I'm with both of you Oldmoldy and Roxy. I don't get the mentality of this coach. He's probably trying to be classy and humble without thinking of the big picture message that he is sending the kids.
His thinking might be an outgrowth of radical egalitarianism that he may have picked up in his college days. The liberal university's in our country are awash with this kind of mentality. And we wonder why our country is becoming less and less competitive in the things that really matter.
I'm glad my grandkids aren't on his team.
08:06 am - Sat, December 1 2012
Dances with Redwoods said:
It does seem odd to me that a coach would throttle down his team in a game such as football. You'd never see that logic applied to a swimming team, track & field team, tennis team or any other team competition that I can think of. But I could be wrong.
08:20 am - Sat, December 1 2012
Dances with Redwoods said:
(sorry) I'd meant to add---> so as to not hurt the opposing teams feeling's.

I'll never forget the first time I'd watched a pop warner pee-wee fooball game, it was the Rhino's versus the I really can't remember 'those other guys' and the Rhino's had lost BIG TIME.

I'd turned to my brother who was sitting next to me up in the bleachers watching my two sons play and said..."Whelp!...it's all over but the crying now, time to bust out the hankies!"
10:20 am - Sat, December 1 2012
Fletch said:
I don't know the "starters" for either side. But if they were in at that point, I think it would have been better to pull them and get the other kids some game time.
Somebodies gotta be first at last...
01:45 pm - Sat, December 1 2012
Mack said:
Good point Fletch. That's how most coaches do it. When the game is out of reach they pull the starters and put in the second string guys. The second stringers can then play their hearts out and usually not run the score up so high that it is embarrassing to the other team. And if the second stringers can run it up...oh well, the team that got trounced can use that for motivation to improve.
Chip Kelly has been doing that all season (with the exception of Stanford of course).

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