Scott Henrichs knew he could make it.
The Granite Bay High School junior was going to kick the 29-yard field goal to win a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinal Friday night in the closing seconds – in the cold and rain, under great pressure. He was going to be the hero on his mother’s birthday.
But good fortune wasn’t on Henrichs’ side. He missed when he couldn’t, and Tracy prevailed 27-21 in overtime to reach a section title game for the first time in 27 years.
But how Henrichs handled defeat stands out, and his perserverance cannot be measured in any box score. He has dealt with it admirably and with great maturity. He didn’t lash out. He didn’t hide his face in failure. He faced his teammates and coaches, head held high, and embraced the moment as a learning experience.
Henrichs climbed out of bed Saturday morning and hustled to basketball practice, a new season with new challenges. His heart, though, remains with his football teammates. The 3.5-GPA student said he has to have a short memory, like any kicker. But he’ll never forget.
“The lesson is overcoming adversity, and my teammates – my brothers – know I tried my best,” Henrichs said Monday. “I know I messed up. I should’ve made that kick. I wasn’t nervous. I was confident. Just missed. But the support I received from players, coaches, teammates and family really helps. The other lesson is high school football is great, but it’s the bonds that you make that are more important.”
The score was 21-21 with 16 seconds remaining in regulation. Henrichs was faced with a virtual point-after-touchdown attempt. He’s made dozens from there and beyond in practice. He had made his team’s only two field-goal attempts this season, and he’d hammered home 40 extra points. Tracy coach Matt Shrout burned all three of his timeouts to make Henrichs think about the kick, a ploy called “icing the kicker” that seemingly plays out in college and NFL games each weekend. Henrichs’ first two attempts, just as Tracy called timeout, went cleanly through the uprights.
Granite Bay didn’t snap the ball for the third attempt as Tracy called its last timeout. The final attempt veered left. Tracy players went wild. The Bulldogs took a knee to send it into overtime and won a moment later, sealing the upset with an interception on a pass intended for Henrichs, also a receiver.
Talk about a double downer. But Henrichs said he felt mostly for his teammates, particularly the seniors who don’t have “next year.” He apologized to teammates and coaches for missing, and they in turn reminded him this is a team game, that the Grizzlies win and lose as a group.
A 6-foot-2 guard, Henrichs took the floor with his basketball brothers Monday night in a foundation game against Whitney. His favorite sport is baseball. He’s a shortstop, so, yes, he understands pressure in that sport, too.
“Playing three sports, it helps me move on, to try a new thing, to refocus, but the kick will always be there,” Henrichs said. “I’ll bounce back from this. I have to. I’ll have a big senior year.”
Shrout, the Tracy coach, said he has empathy for Henrichs.
“Of course, absolutely, because it’s a tough way to lose,” Shrout said. “You could see it in their eyes that the Granite Bay players were devastated to lose. I’m glad the kick didn’t ruin (Henrichs) because that could ruin a kid.”
Kickers missing and recovering has played out locally before. In a 2009 playoff battle between 12-0 teams, Grant was stopped on the goal line by Rocklin in the final minute trailing 21-19. The Pacers sent out sophomore Charlie Vue to attempt a chip-shot field goal. It missed inches to the left, and Rocklin celebrated. Grant coach Mike Alberghini immediately consoled Vue and told him, “Son, you didn’t cost us the game. I’m so proud to coach you. You’ll be the best kicker we’ve ever had.”
Vue became the greatest kick scorer in state history, accumulating 217 points. He is now studying mathematics at American River College.
Having watched a lot of football programs handle victory and defeat in different ways, Jason Harper of locally based Character Combine, a firm that stresses sportsmanship in nationwide clinics, said he was delighted to hear how Henrichs handled defeat.
“When you dissect character to the lowest common denominator, camaraderie is at the core,” Harper said. “Henrichs did the best he could. His teammates know. What a great moment to celebrate high school athletics, how it goes beyond the scoreboard and wins and losses. Henrichs will remember that support forever. If not for the support, who knows? He might buckle and never want to compete in sports again.”
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.