The end of one chapter gives way to the start of another, and such is the case as teams around the state begin preparations for the 2020-21 school year.
For many, that’ll mean making the move to a new district, and schools like Plano ISD, Lewisville ISD and Coppell are no different. The PISD trio broke away from their longtime rivals in Allen and McKinney and link up with LISD and Coppell in a revamped District 6-6A.
Throughout the summer, Star Local Media will reflect on the year that was for 6-6A’s eight schools while also looking ahead to the district’s storylines and subplots for the 2020-21 school year.
1. Who's the preliminary favorite in 6-6A boys soccer?
David Wolman: As far as the preliminary favorite in 6-6A boys soccer, it's hard to bet against tradition.
Having already clinched both a postseason spot and the outright District 6-6A championship when play was halted this past spring due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Flower Mound Marcus Marauders extended their string of playoff berths to 28 consecutive years — a streak that dates all the way back to 1993.
Although Marcus lost 10 players who earned a spot on the all-district team as seniors, including MVP Harvey Castro and his 12 goals and eight assists, his younger brother, junior Zach Castro, who netted 11 goals and nine assists to notch newcomer of the year honors, is ready to lead the next wave of Mauraders on the pitch.
Coppell could be the darkhorse in the mix to unseat Marcus, as after all, the Cowboys handed the Mauraders their only loss this past season, a 2-1 defeat. Nicholas Radicic splashed onto the prep scene with four goals and three assists as a freshman. Sebastian Flores enters his senior season fresh off a three-goal campaign.
Don't forget about Marcus' crosstown rival, Flower Mound, which won the Class 6A title in 2018.
2. Who's the preliminary favorite in 6-6A girls soccer?
Matt Welch: Although girls basketball has a strong claim to being 6-6A’s most competitive sport in 2020-21, there’s a case to be made for what looks like a loaded girls soccer district as well.
Lewisville ISD and Coppell always bring the heat when soccer season rolls around, evidenced by Flower Mound, Marcus, Coppell and Hebron all cracking the Top Drawer Soccer national rankings at some juncture of the 2020 season. The Lady Jaguars were in first place when the season was shut down, courtesy of an undefeated record, but had strung together three consecutive draws with the Lady Marauders, Cowgirls and Lady Hawks — with just five points separating those three sides in the standings.
Plano ISD is fairly deep as well, with Plano Senior and Plano West particularly authoring strong years prior to the shutdown, but this feels like another fight to the finish between Flower Mound’s two powerhouses.
The Lady Jaguars have a bit of offense to replace between graduating district MVP Abby Smith and all-state forward Caitlyn Matthews, but they retain plenty from a defense that surrendered just one goal in district play. Marcus, meanwhile, really came into its own late in the season by going unbeaten over its last seven matches and could return as many as 12 players who made the all-district first or second team.
Behind that experience, the Lady Marauders get the slightest of edges over their crosstown rivals.
3. Who are some early MVP candidates in 6-6A boys and girls soccer?
Matt Welch: Most years, 19 goals and 11 assists is a productive enough campaign to warrant an MVP nod, but 6-6A is no ordinary soccer talent. Still, Marcus senior Kelly Van Gundy is already entrenched as one of the area’s top offensive threats and if the Lady Marauders are able to usurp Flower Mound for the league championship, it’ll likely require another year of double-digit goals and assists from the dynamic Marcus forward.
Meanwhile, Flower Mound has a combined 33 goals to replace between the losses of Smith and Matthews, which should open the door for a player like senior Tatum Beck, who scored 10 goals as a junior, to take on a larger role.
Coppell’s girls team is loaded as well, with junior Michelle Pak and senior Jocelyn Alonzo capable of lighting up any opposing defense on a nightly basis.
If Plano ISD is able to work its way into the mix, look out for the Plano West boys and girls. On the boys side, senior Jackson Castro tallied three goals and seven assists in district action alone, while the Lady Wolves got an all-state year out of senior Karsen Aguirre.
If Marcus is able to repeat as 6-6A’s boys champs, expect Castro to have a big say in that after earning a score of newcomer superlatives after a breakout sophomore year.
4. Who are some potential impact sophomores to keep an eye on in 6-6A?
Matt Welch: Plano West girls basketball managed to close out its season on a high note thanks to a 32-point effort from Monica Marsh in the final game of her freshman season. She helped lead a 65-58 upset of playoff-bound Allen. Despite missing a chunk of district play, Marsh averaged 11.1 points and 4.6 rebounds in an all-district campaign.
But as far as Plano ISD freshmen go, Plano East’s Taylor Haggan set the bar quite high after leading the second-place Lady Panthers in scoring (8.7) and rebounding (5.3) on her way to 9-6A newcomer of the year honors. The best is yet to come for East’s interior anchor.
David Wolman: Coppell sophomores Nicholas Radicic and Preston Taylor have the potential to make a big impact in the upcoming 2020-21 winter season, as the Cowboys attempt to qualify for the playoffs for the 24th consecutive season. Radicic scored four goals and added three assists as a freshman to earn a spot on the 6-6A second team. Taylor was an honorable mention selection after tallying three assists.