July 10 marked the 27th ESPY Awards, the annual ceremony devoted to honoring standout professional and collegiate athletes and teams of the past year.
It’s the sports equivalent to the Oscars or Grammys, so why not put a high school spin on the concept?
Over the past school year, Allen and Lovejoy have showcased no shortage of notable individual and team athletic achievements, so it is only appropriate to put the last season of local citywide sports into an award-winning perspective. In the coming weeks, the city’s top athletes, teams and games will be recognized among nine different awards.
With that said, Star Local Media concludes the seventh edition of The Varsitys.
Best Male Athlete
Matt Welch: Reed Berry, Allen boys soccer
Between their boys and girls teams, the Eagles enjoyed no shortage of highlight moments on the soccer pitch last spring – both winning district titles and advancing at least four rounds deep in the playoffs.
At the heart of the Allen boys’ return to prominence was Berry, the alpha and omega of the Eagles’ offense and the eventual MVP of 9-6A. Dubbed by one of the best talents in program history by head coach Kim Fullerton, Berry validated that praise time and time again during his senior campaign with 15 goals and six assists to fuel Allen to its deepest playoff run since 2008.
Taylor Raglin: Grant Tisdale, Allen football
One of the defining faces of the Eagles’ 2018 run to the state semifinal, the Allen alum and Ole Miss signee, who helped lift the team to a state title in 2017, led the Eagles to a 14-1 record in his final campaign.
While the 2018 season ended without another trophy, Tisdale’s season bested nearly every personal mark set during his time with the program. He threw for 2,466 yards and rushed for more than 1,200, making him a legitimate dual-threat signal-caller, though his efficiency through the air didn’t slip in the face of that dual nature. Tisdale upped his completion percentage from 2017’s 65.5% mark to a 70.2% clip last fall, which was achieved despite an uptick in overall pass attempts. He was also intercepted just four times against 47 total touchdowns on the ground and through the air.
Tisdale finished his Allen career with an overall record of 44-2 and a 30-1 mark as the No. 1 quarterback – though the Allen football program is used to success and tremendous individual performances, Tisdale’s case for being the school’s best male athlete is as strong as anyone’s on campus.
Best Female Athlete
Matt Welch: Nyah Green, Allen girls basketball
Green began her varsity career with the Lady Eagles as a freshman, winning district Newcomer of the Year before transferring to Bishop Lynch for her sophomore and junior campaigns. Returning to Allen as a senior, Green’s arrival was a harbinger of things to come in a special year on the hardwood for the Lady Eagles.
At the forefront of every opposing coach’s scouting report, Green’s quick trigger and dynamic offensive skill set tormented opponents nightly to the tune of 17.0 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. She averaged nearly 20 points per contest over the final five games of the Lady Eagles’ best-ever playoff run, which culminated in the state semifinals.
Following her senior season, Green concluded her high school career by competing among the top hoopers in the country as the first Allen player to ever be named to the McDonald’s All-American Game.
Taylor Raglin: Madison Waters, Lovejoy volleyball
Though the Lovejoy volleyball team was stacked with talent this season, which produced a run to the state championship match and a second-place result, there was one unquestioned leader spearheading the club’s effort.
Head coach Jason Nicholson called Waters, a Cincinnati signee, one of the heaviest arms he’d ever coached, and she proved it to the tune of a team-leading 575 kills this season. Waters chipped in 390 digs to go along with those enders, good for the third-best mark on the team, though it was perhaps her leadership ability that proved her greatest contribution.
At the state tournament, Waters was one of the players facing the media after each game, and it was evident throughout the event that her teammates looked to her for guidance.
Though the program will bring back talent in spades, the Lady Leopards will need someone to step into the pivotal role Waters played at the helm of the program moving forward.
Matt Welch: Allen girls basketball
Allen had its usual laundry list of worthy candidates for this accolade, qualifying three programs for the state semifinals and another that completed a decade’s worth of state titles.
But when looking back on the 2018-19 school year, there’s no shaking the intangibles of the Lady Eagles’ dream run to the state tournament. Beyond qualifying for the final four for the first time ever, Allen made good on a season chock-full of potential with a district championship and a late-season surge that produced a buzzer-beating finish against Sachse in the regional quarterfinals, a shootout victory in the fourth round over No. 2-ranked Pflugerville Hendrickson and a stirring comeback from 15 points down in the second half to oust Prosper in the regional finals.
For a team that hadn’t so much as advanced past the third round, the Lady Eagles looked the part of the state’s elite and submitted a year like no other in program history.
Taylor Raglin: Allen boys wrestling
What more is there to say about this program? Each year, other teams make their case for being the best on campus, but there simply isn’t a more dominant group at Allen than its boys wrestling team.
This season marked the 10th consecutive team state title for the Eagles, a run that’s completely unprecedented and unrivaled across any prep sport. The team sent 13 wrestlers to Cypress for the state event this season, qualifying a wrestler in all but one weight class, and a dozen of those athletes placed. The Eagles won five individual state titles, as junior Braxton Brown (113), alum Trent Dooley (138), sophomore Mario Danzi (145), senior Elise Brown Ton (152) and alum Johnny Green (285) all took gold. Overall, Allen won its group title by more than 100 points, a margin that equaled the difference between the second-place and 13th-place teams.
Put simply, no program’s accomplishments really come close to matching the run of success from the Eagles on the mat, and that’s unlikely to change moving forward.