Allen softball

The Allen softball team had plenty to celebrate during the 2021 season after winning a district championship and advancing to the regional quarterfinals.

With the book about to close on 2021, it’s time to look back on the year that was in Allen-area athletics.

This year was clad in noteworthy moments across all sports for Allen and Lovejoy, including playoff success and championships won at the district and state levels.

The Allen American sports staff has compiled its top 10 sports stories of the year, beginning with the first half of that lineup.

6. Eagles make history on soccer pitch

For the first time ever, the Allen boys soccer team advanced to the Class 6A state semifinals.

The Eagles posted a 21-5-1 record on the year, amassing a 10-match win streak that carried into the playoffs and eclipsed the program’s previous landmark postseason run back in 1993.

Head coach Kim Fullerton leaned on the experience of an 18-player senior class, which contributed to an average of 3.2 goals scored per match versus just 0.9 allowed.

Alum Sam Presser captured district MVP and Star Local Media all-area offensive player of the year honors following a prolific scoring campaign where he netted 36 goals as a senior. Teammate and alum Jackson Leavitt, meanwhile, held down the back end in goal with just 0.48 goals allowed.

7. Lovejoy back in regional finals

The Leopards picked up where they left off in their second year under head coach Chris Ross. Lovejoy posted a 12-2 record, which culminated in consecutive appearances in the regional finals. Along the way, the Leopards amassed a 38-point margin of victory and didn’t so much as trail in a ballgame until the final week of the regular season on Nov. 4 against Frisco Liberty.

Despite a contentious loss in its regular-season finale against those same Redhawks — in a game that was broadcasted on ESPNU — Lovejoy still captured a district championship for the second straight year, finishing in a three-way tie with Frisco and Liberty.

Playoff wins over Crandall (77-27), Burleson (28-23) and Mansfield Timberview (24-20) followed to send Lovejoy back to the regional finals for the second straight season. But just like 2020, that was the end of the road for Lovejoy — and once again at the hands of the eventual 5A Division II state champion after falling to South Oak Cliff, 42-21.

8. One to remember for Allen softball

It was a historic 2021 for the Lady Eagles’ softball team, which enjoyed its most successful season in 17 years. Allen captured a district championship and advanced three rounds deep in the playoffs — the last time the program achieved both was back in 2004.

It was a momentous debut for head coach Kathy Schoettle, whose first year at Allen amounted to a 27-8-2 record. Led by Star Local Media all-area selections Alexis Telford (pitcher of the year) and Sami Hood (second team), Allen was part of a three-way tie for first place in 5-6A alongside Prosper and Denton Guyer.

The Lady Eagles parlayed that run into playoff series wins over Plano and Arlington Martin before falling in three games to eventual state semifinalist Flower Mound. That included a 5-3 win in Game 1 of the best-of-three series against the Lady Jaguars — a ballgame that was played over the course of two days due to a lighting outage in Flower Mound’s home stadium.

9. Lady Leopards recapture playoff magic

The Lady Leopards made their first appearance in the regional finals since 2015 but met a familiar finality to their season. Lovejoy’s run was halted in the fifth round by Hallsville — the same program that bounced the Lady Leopards in 2015.

Seeded No. 2 out of District 10-5A, Lovejoy picked up playoff wins over Frisco Wakeland, Carrollton Creekview, Frisco Heritage and Sulphur Springs on their way to the regional finals. 

The Lady Leopards went 31-12-1 overall and had plenty of recognition to show for it. Skylar Rucker was named 10-5A defensive player of the year as just a freshman, while junior Sydney Bardwell picked up catcher of the year honors, and sophomore Kamryn Messick was named newcomer of the year. Additionally, juniors Jade Owens and Hannah Harvey were selected to the DFW Fastpitch All-Metroplex Team.

10. Allen’s adds two more to NFL

The NFL draft is becoming quite the springtime tradition for football fans in Allen. For the second time in three years, the Eagles had multiple alumni drafted.

Alum Levi Onwuzurike was selected by the Detroit Lions in the second round of the draft, chosen at pick No. 41, and alum William Sherman was later picked in the sixth round by the New England Patriots.

Onwuzurike and Sherman became the fifth and sixth NFL-bound members of Allen’s 2014 state championship team, joining quarterback Kyler Murray (Arizona Cardinals), receiver Jalen Guyton (Los Angeles Chargers), offensive lineman Greg Little (Miami Dolphins) and offensive lineman Bobby Evans (Los Angeles Rams).

For his college career at Washington, Onwuzurike totaled 95 tackles, including 16 for a loss of yardage, plus seven sacks. Sherman, meanwhile, started 27 of 30 career games at Colorado — logging 67 knockdown blocks in 12 games played in 2020.

For continued news and coverage on the local sports scene, follow Matt Welch on Twitter.

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