GLASSBORO – Sterling Sheffield didn’t know he would be a team captain until game day.
John Adams, head coach of the White all-stars for the 25th annual Adam Taliaferro All-Star Football Classic, made the decision days earlier.
Not everyone has the mental makeup to be a captain, but Adams recognized the trait almost immediately.
“The very first practice, the kids really don’t know each other. They check in, get their keys and come to practice,” said Adams, the head coach at Woodstown High School. “He was the very first voice we heard getting the kids up, breaking things down together; the first to offer encouragement.
“What really stood out in my mind was during one practice there was a linebacker in there and he made a mistake, he took the wrong angle. Before I could even correct it, Sheffield was behind me going ‘do this, do that.’ He was correcting guys on the field and I turned to one of our coaches and told him there was one of our captains.”
A recent Clearview graduate, Sheffield proved to be an impact player on both sides of the ball Wednesday night. Not only was the 6-foot-2, 210-pounder a defensive menace, but he would add a 2-yard touchdown run out of the Wildcat formation in a 56-0 victory at Rowan University.
Sheffield had his game face on before, during and even after his final high school game.
“It’s crazy how we combined to become a family in just three days,” said Sheffield, who will attend the University of Maine. “We had each other’s back and that’s something not a lot of teams can do.
“I was smiling all week. It was great to have a coach use me in all different situations and be able to have the time to work on my craft.”
Sheffield had two sacks, a quarterback hurry and was in on a handful of tackles at defensive end. He scooped up a loose ball for a fumble recovery in the closing seconds of the first quarter.
One play he would line up on the left side, the next he’d be on the right. He routinely pushed blockers aside, pursuing whoever had the ball.
Needless to say, his name was mentioned quite a bit by the announcer.
“He’s physical. He was flying around out there, looking fast,” Adams said. “He’s just a tremendous leader. He was just fantastic all week helping kids out on both sides of the ball.
“He was pretty much the bright spot of our defense because our offense was explosive all week in practice. We couldn’t block him in practice. He would come in and disrupt plays. We couldn’t block him in the pass game, couldn’t block him in the run game.”
In his last season at Clearview, Sheffield had 61 tackles (41 solos) and 10 tackles for loss. He added seven quarterback hurries, five forced fumbles, three pass breakups, a sack and an interception.
He brought the same intensity to an all-star setting that he did throughout his senior campaign.
“It was all the hard work, not just me but the whole team,” Sheffield said. “I was able to help the team.
“I wanted to play as hard as I could and see my team play 110 percent. If we didn’t do that, it could have been a different score.”
Kevin Minnick; (856) 486-2424; email@example.com