With the book about to close on 2019, it’s time to look back on the year that was in Denton County athletics.
This year was clad in noteworthy moments across all sports at the public and private school level, including playoff success and championships won at the district and state levels.
The Star Local Media sports staff has compiled its top 10 sports stories of the year for its Denton County markets — Carrollton, Coppell, Flower Mound, Lake Cities, Lewisville and The Colony.
10. Lady Cougars enjoy district title, deep playoff run
The Colony’s girls basketball team was a hairline away from matching the deepest playoff run in program history last season, advancing to the regional semifinals before falling to eventual 5A state champion Amarillo, 68-66.
A last-second put-back by Lady Sandies’ guard Brooke Urban spelled an end to The Colony’s fourth-round postseason voyage, closing out a year that still produced of the better years in program history. Behind the all-state backcourt of Jewel Spear and Tamia Jones, the Lady Cougars captured the District 8-5A championship and won 22 games during the 2018-19 season.
Spear was named the district’s MVP, while Jones and alum Chloe Adam earned first-team honors.
Jones and Spear are back at it again this season, as The Colony seeks a repeat run atop 8-5A.
9. Park exits links on high note
Park graduated as the most accomplished golfer to ever pass through Hebron, authoring a decorated career for the Lady Hawks that included three medals earned at the state tournament.
Park’s senior season was all too familiar in that sense, tying for third place in 6A after shooting a two-day score of 141 (71-70) to match Austin Westlake’s Sadie Engelmann back in May at Georgetown’s Legacy Hills Golf Club.
Prior to qualifying for state, Park posted second-place finishes in both the 6-6A and Region I-6A tournaments, requiring a playoff in both events.
Park’s third-place tie at state marked the third time the Hebron standout has donned a bronze medal on the biggest event of the UIL golf calendar — placing third overall as a freshman and a junior.
Continuing her career at TCU, Park exited high school as the only four-time state golf qualifier in Lewisville ISD history.
8. LISD, Coppell impress at state XC
Denton County is never lacking in representation at the state cross country meet, and success usually follows that turnout.
The 2019 state meet was no different, with the Flower Mound boys donning bronze medals after placing third overall in the team standings. The Jaguars trailed Southlake Carroll and The Woodlands in the race for the 6A state title, with Flower Mound’s Thomas Romanow notching the top team finish with an 11th-place run.
The defending 6A state champions on the girls side, Coppell mustered a fourth-place finish, led by a 14th-place run by Morgan Colon. The Cowboys fell just a few seconds short of bringing home some hardware of their own in the boys race after Evan Caswell mustered a fourth-place finish with a time of 14:48.34.
Ditto for Flower Mound’s star sophomore Natalie Cook, whose state cross country debut resulted in a fifth-place finish at 17:48.86.
7. Medals aplenty for 6-6A at state track
District 6-6A has produced its share of state track and field medalists over the years and the 2019 iteration of the meet was more of the same. Between Lewisville ISD and Coppell, local student-athletes returned from Austin’s Mike A. Myers Stadium with four second-place and three third-place medals.
Mining silver in state track competition was Flower Mound’s Alex Maier in the 3,200-meter run (9:00.03), Coppell’s Jackson Walker in the 800 (1:53.19), Flower Mound’s Natalie Cook in the 3,200 (10:24.96) and Marcus’ Lorielle Daniel in the triple jump (41-6). Maier, Cook and Daniel doubled as bronze medalists as well, with Flower Mound’s distance-running duo placing third in the 1,600 — Alex running a 4:09.41 and Natalie a 4:50.09 — while Marcus’ star jumper took third in the long jump with a 19-1 1/2.
Top-five state finishes were turned in by Hebron’s Myles Richter in the 3,200 (9:15.15), The Colony’s Myles Price in the long jump (22-09 1/4), Flower Mound’s Anastaysia Davis in the 800 (2:11.76) and Marcus’ Taryn Hankins in the 100 (11.67).
6. Marcus’ comeback campaign
After finishing outside the playoff picture altogether in 2018, Marcus responded with its best season in more than two decades.
The Marauders posted an 11-2 record in 2019, which included an 11-game winning streak up until the regional semifinal round of the postseason — the program’s first third-round appearance since its state championship run in 1997.
Marcus fell short in that pursuit but still authored its share of hallmark moments, including razor-thin victories over rivals Flower Mound (34-31) and Lewisville (48-42) en route to a District 6-6A championship. The Marauders did so behind one of the area’s most dynamic offenses, which averaged 434.5 yards and 35.5 points per game.
With the likes of quarterback Garrett Nussmeier, receiver J. Michael Sturdivant and defensive lineman Bryson Barber due back in 2020, Marcus is set up for another strong year.
5. Argyle continues Lone Star Cup dynasty
Argyle has been the class of 4A athletics for years and that was once again the case in 2019, capturing an eighth consecutive UIL Lone Star Cup — the athletics body’s annual accolade given to the top school in each classification based on performance in district and state championships.
The Eagles had that in droves in 2019, capturing state championships in girls basketball and baseball along with 10 district titles. Within that success came a score a of deep playoff runs, be it the football team’s recent run to the regional finals, the volleyball team qualifying for the regional semifinals, plus postseasons of at least three rounds deep for its boys basketball, boys soccer and girls soccer programs.
4. McBride exits AD chair, returns to sidelines
After a successful run as Coppell’s head football coach, during which he amassed a record of 51-10 and qualified for the playoffs four times in five seasons, Joe McBride had spent the past few years in the athletic director’s chair at Coppell ISD.
McBride was back on the sidelines in 2019, only this time at the helm of McKinney Boyd football after being named just the program’s second-ever head coach in January.
Tasked with turning around a Boyd team that sported a combined record of 9-21 from 2016-18, McBride and the Broncos fell one win short of qualifying for the playoffs in his first year in charge.
Meanwhile, Coppell named McBride’s successor a couple months later after promoting former assistant athletic director Kit Pehl.
3. Lake Dallas soccer posts hallmark season
Lake Dallas rewrote the record books in 2019, submitting its best campaign ever on the soccer pitch.
The Falcons didn’t balk at their lofty expectations entering the year, going undefeated in District 8-5A play to capture the program’s first-ever league championship. Along the way, Lake Dallas outscored its conference opponents, 47-10, and posted four shutouts with junior Kaleb Irving in goal.
From there, the Falcons – with just one playoff win to their history – advanced to the regional finals, knocking off Saginaw (3-2), Mansfield Legacy (3-0), Fort Worth Arlington Heights (3-2) and Wichita Falls (4-2) before dropping a 4-1 overtime decision to eventual 5A state champion El Paso Bel Air.
From producing the school’s lone district champ and its deepest playoff run, no team to don Lake Dallas green and white was better in 2018-19.
2. The Colony returns to state softball
With 96 wins over the past three seasons, including a Class 5A state title in 2017, The Colony submitted another banner year on the softball diamond.
The Lady Cougars posted a 39-3 overall record, including a perfect 12-0 run through 8-5A where the district champs posted an average margin of victory of 7.5 runs and picked up seven run-rule victories. Those 12 wins came as part of a 27-game winning streak amassed by The Colony leading up to the state tournament, where the team exited in the semifinal round to Corpus Christi Calallen.
Qualifying for state for the second time in three years, the Lady Cougars sported one of the top lineups in the state, with 10 hitters batting over .300 during the 2019 season — including obscene hitting numbers for players like Jayda Coleman (.707) and Jacee Hamlin (.509). Couple that with a 1.01 ERA and 37-1 record compiled in the circle by pitcher Karli Charles, and The Colony was once again the class of the high school.
1. The Year of the Jaguar
Simply put, 2019 was the best year in school history for Flower Mound athletics.
The Jaguars’ volleyball and football teams laid the foundation for big things in late 2018, and that momentum carried over for the duration of the school year. Flower Mound captured district titles in boys soccer and softball, and turned in dominant postseasons for its baseball team (five rounds deep in the playoffs), the cross country teams (boys third at state, girls fifth), the girls swim team (third at state) and several members of the track and field team.
The highlight came on the soccer pitch, however, where Flower Mound captured its first-ever state championship chalked with hallmark moments. The Jaguars survived close calls in the playoffs against Duncanville (area round) and Arlington Bowie (regional semifinals), mounted a wild, second-half comeback in the state semifinals against Alief Elsik and bested San Antonio Lee in a shootout in the 6A final to finish the year 21-3-1.
Overall, Flower Mound checked in at No. 3 in the UIL’s Lone Star Cup standings in 6A following its benchmark athletics year.