The Varsitys

Awarding the year's best in Celina-area athletics (Part I)

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Celina vs. Argyle playoffs

Celina nearly pulled off the upset over Argyle in the third round of the postseason just weeks after the Eagles cruised to a 63-21 over the Bobcats in the regular season.

July 10 marks 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, the Celina and Prosper area has 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 presents the seventh edition of The Varsitys.

Best Game

Celina vs. Argyle football, Nov. 30

In the days leading up to this exciting postseason showdown between two fierce rivals on the gridiron, Celina never lacked an ounce of confidence despite losing by more than 40 points to the Eagles just a few weeks prior.

Celina had No. 1 state-ranked Argyle against the ropes in the regional semifinal, but a 28-yard touchdown pass from Bo Hogeboom to Cole Kirkpatrick with 25 seconds left gave the Eagles the lead for good in a thrilling 26-22 victory over the Bobcats.

On Argyle’s game-winning drive, the Eagles converted three third downs and even a pivotal fourth down on an 11-yard hookup between Hogeboom and Kirkpatrick moments before the go-ahead score.

Then on the final play, the two connected for what turned out to be the play of the game when Kirkpatrick beat a Celina defender that appeared to lose his footing just as he hauled in the touchdown pass.

Prior to that drive, Celina regained the lead on a spectacular, one-handed touchdown grab by freshman tight end Brady Cunningham on fourth-and-goal to give the Bobcats a 22-19 advantage with 2:45 to go.

On the previous play, Argyle cornerback Jake Sullivan intercepted Celina quarterback Hunter Watson’s pass near the goal line and took it 102 yards for a pick-six. However, a penalty was called for offsides on the defense, which gave Celina one more chance after catching its breath, and Cunningham took full advantage.

One of the more impressive aspects of this showdown was the fact that the Celina limited an explosive Argyle offense that came in averaging over 50 points per game to just 26 and forced the Eagles to punt five times.

Breakthrough Athlete

Caleb Putnam, Prosper baseball

Coming into the 2019 season, the Prosper baseball team faced various question marks on who would lead the Eagles pitching rotation.

One name was certain in senior Jacob Cosner, but for Prosper to maintain its success in its first-ever run in Class 6A, another guy had to step up and emerge as the team’s new ace.

That player was Putnam, who went on to lead the Eagles in multiple pitching categories after playing a minimal role on the varsity squad the year before.

Putnam paced Prosper in innings pitched with 72 and sported a flawless 10-0 record and a 1.07 ERA while also finishing second on the team in strikeouts with 65.

Biggest Story

Prosper’s Rick Carpenter retires

Less than 24 hours after Prosper’s season came to an end in a Game 3 regional quarterfinal loss to Rockwall, head coach Rick Carpenter was already soaking up more baseball action on the diamond.

Carpenter’s son, St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter, was in town playing against the Texas Rangers, and friends and family gathered in a suite to watch Matt’s final game in North Texas for the season. While watching the game, Carpenter and his wife received a text that their house had finally been sold – which proved to be the final straw in announcing his retirement after 37 years as a head coach.

Carpenter briefly flirted with the thought of retirement following the conclusion of last season and even put his house on the market a year ago.  After countless months of not getting any nibbles on the house, everything started to fall into place last month.

Carpenter leaves a legacy that is unmatched around the state with 883 career victories in 37 seasons that includes three state titles at Elkins in 1995, 2002 and 2003 and a fourth in 2015 with Prosper.

He is also a member of the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and although his coaching accolades are about as good as it gets, he said the highlight of his illustrious career was being able to coach his two sons.

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