The 28th ESPY Awards, the annual ceremony devoted to honoring standout professional and collegiate athletes and teams of the past year, aired on June 21.
It's the sports equivalent to the Oscars or Grammys, so Star Local Media has decided in recent years to put a high school spin on the concept.
This has been a year that nobody will soon forget with the COVID-19 pandemic touching every facet of life, including high school sports, which saw its athletic year truncated on Mar. 12.
Though many of the spring sports were unable to complete their stories, Allen and Lovejoy showcased no shortage of notable individual and team athletic achievements, so it is only appropriate to put the last year of local varsity sports into an award-winning perspective.
In the coming weeks, the Allen area’s top athletes, teams and games will be recognized among nine different awards.
With that said, Star Local Media presents its eighth edition of The Varsitys, the first of a three-part series.
Allen vs. Rockwall, football (Nov. 22)
Although the end result didn’t go the Eagles’ way, their 2019 swan song was an instant classic and among the most entertaining football games of the season.
Allen and Rockwall combined for 1,176 yards and 119 points at AT&T Stadium, including seven total touchdowns of 45 yards.
Fueled by four early touchdowns from receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, which all contributed to a first quarter that totaled 49 points between the two juggernauts, Rockwall opened up a 28-14 lead and kept Allen at arm’s reach until late in the third quarter when the Eagles scored 14 points in a mere 10 seconds to draw even at 52-52.
Those scores were part of a run of 21 unanswered points by Allen to seize a 59-52 lead midway through the fourth quarter — only for Rockwall to answer back with a short touchdown pass and a two-point conversion that put the Eagles down, 60-59, with 1:23 remaining in the ballgame.
Alum Raylen Sharpe, who accounted for almost 600 total yards of offense, led the Eagles past midfield, but a run on fourth-and-five was stopped 2 yards short of the first down to preserve the shootout win for Rockwall.
The loss was Allen’s earliest elimination in the postseason since 2011.
Amy Morefield, Lovejoy cross country
Just a freshman, Morefield showed that she was capable of hanging with the area’s elite cross country runners after placing top 10 in the coveted McNeil Invitational in late September.
Morefield did more than just hang when the postseason began a couple weeks later — winning the District 10-5A meet and handing McKinney North three-time state cross country champion London Culbreath the first postseason loss of her decorated career.
Morefield added a personal-record 5,000-meter time of 17:29.9 to place second at regionals before taking third overall at the Class 5A state meet in November. With three years left on the high school distance circuit, there may be a few more trips to the podium on the horizon for the breakout Lady Leopard.
COVID-19 shuts down high school sports
For many involved in high school sports, March 2020 is a month that will live in infamy for years to come.
As the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic seeped into the sports world — the first major domino to fall came on March 11 with the NBA’s suspension of its season — it was only a matter of time before the impact hit home with local high school programs. On March 12, the UIL made its first move with the suspension of the state boys basketball tournament, and one day later, suspended all interscholastic activities for what would ultimately be the remainder of the school year.
In addition to the state boys basketball tournament, high school soccer, baseball, softball, golf, tennis and track and field teams all had their seasons cancelled — spelling an unfinished ending to the school year for high school seniors across the state.
The ongoing pandemic has rocked the national sports landscape, with its lasting impact still without resolution as concerns loom over the status of fall sports.