HYANNIS – The first day he stepped on a football field at age 8, it took about 15 minutes before the floodgates opened.
Seated in the burned, crisp grass of August, little Owen Murray could not stop crying and he could not tell his youth football coach what was wrong. Helmets and equipment hadn’t even been handed out yet. It was day one of preseason conditioning. He did not return that season.
Fast forward to 2011, Murray’s freshman season at Barnstable High School and the 6’3, 240-lb. lineman suddenly found himself practicing with the varsity each day, holding his weight versus seasoned high school football veterans.
“One day I noticed Owen hesitate and step back when he had to face one of the upperclassman,” Barnstable High School offensive line coach George Kostinas said last night during the 85th annual Red Raider football banquet at Barnstable High School. “So I did what coaches do and I grabbed him by the facemask and pulled him aside and I told him, you can do this, you can go against anybody and in typical Owen fashion he responded ‘Yes, coach’.”
Murray, the only three-time varsity letterman on this year’s 3-8 Red Raider football team, was heavily rewarded last night for his selfless yet driven football career at Barnstable High, one that included back-to-back Old Colony League All-Star selections and to top it all off, the school’s oldest and most prestigious athletic honor.
To rounding applause, Murray was named the 79th recipient in school history to receive the vaunted Jean G. Hinkle Memorial Athletic Award which was established in 1935.
While this year’s team may have floundered for its first eight games, it did not lose again after defeating Durfee on Nov. 8 on the road and finished the season by winning three straight. Not for one moment this season, did the senior co-captain relent or take a play off. Playing on both sides of the ball at offensive and defensive tackle, just as he did last year, Murray’s “silent but violent” mode of leadership was by pure example.
“After each practice, Owen would be at Building M (the weightlifting room) wanting to get in, that’s how dedicated he was to becoming better every day,” Kostinas added.
But that wasn’t the only honor bestowed upon the humble but hulking football player. Murray also received the 2014 Drive & Heart of the Line Award, an award reserved for the school’s best offensive lineman. He also finished the season second on the team in tackles with 82 and tied for the team lead in sacks (4.0).
Murray, who is a three-time Old Colony League All-Star as a heavyweight wrestler for the Red Raiders, and will earn his fifth varsity letter this winter as he vies for a Division 1 state championship title, is one of only three Red Raiders in school history to have won two Division 1 South Sectional championship titles.
Murray’s fellow Red Raider co-captain Colton Bergal, who led Barnstable this season in tackles with 109, received Barnstable football’s second highest honor in the Raymond E. Hostetter Jr. Award given annually to the player who demonstrates a superior level of competitiveness and leadership.
In addition to Murray as an OCL All-Star selection, wide receivers Eric Holzman, Nate Balthazard and Bo Delaney were also named to the OCL All-Star team. Senior running back DeMichael Johnson was also named to the list and additionally received the Kevin A. Houston Memorial Thanksgiving Day Most Valuable Player Award for 132 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns in Thanksgiving’s 34-27 win over Falmouth. The Thanksgiving Day award has been in existence since 1959.
Story and photos by Sean Walsh/CCBM Sports Editor. He may be reached via email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @coachwalshccbm