The 29th ESPY Awards, the annual ceremony devoted to honoring standout professional and collegiate athletes and teams of the past year, aired on July 10.
It's the sports equivalent to the Oscars or Grammys, so Star Local Media has decided in recent years to put a high school spin on the concept.
The 2020-21 school year won’t be soon forgotten by the athletes, coaches and fans involved, as high schools adapted to the change brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and managed to play out a full year of high school sports.
During that time, Celina and Prosper showcased no shortage of notable individual and team athletic achievements, so it’s only appropriate to put the last year of local sports into an award-winning perspective. Over a three-week stretch, the city’s top athletes, teams and games will be recognized among nine different awards.
With that said, Star Local Media presents the ninth edition of The Varsitys.
Best Performance: Celina’s Taylor Zdrojewski breaks state scoring record
Zdrojewski’s first season of high school soccer was one for the record books.
The Celina forward found the back of the net 114 times as a junior, breaking the state’s single-season scoring record along the way.
Zdrojewski did so on April 6 during a seven-goal performance in the regional semifinals against Bullard. She broke the previous record of 109 set by South Hill’s Esmeralda Gonzales in 2016 and finished just 16 goals shy of the national record of 130.
Zdrojewski averaged 4.4 goals per match on the season with 27 coming during the Lady Bobcats’ momentous playoff run. With Zdrojewski as the catalyst, Celina advanced to the Class 4A state semifinals for the first time in program history.
She added 17 assists on the year and engineered an offense that logged a national-record 243 goals during the 2021 season.
Best Coach: Brandon Schmidt, Prosper football
When Schmidt was hired as Prosper’s head football coach in 2016, the Eagles had already begun to right the ship after posting a 6-5 record in 2015 — a mark that doubled the win total of the team’s 3-7 record in 2014.
In Schmidt’s five seasons on the job, Prosper has blossomed into a state power — winning nearly three-quarters of its games played and posting two consecutive four-round postseason runs to the regional finals.
Prosper went just 8-4 last season — the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of two non-district games — but found itself once again among the final eight teams remaining in the 6A Division II bracket.
Since making the jump to 6A prior to the 2018 season, Prosper has qualified for the playoffs all three years and posted a combined record of 28-10. Schmidt’s leadership is a prominent reason why.
Biggest Upset: Prosper Rock Hill football defeats Lake Dallas, Nov. 20
It was a baptism by fire for Rock Hill during its inaugural season on the gridiron. Despite game efforts against the likes of Princeton and Frisco Memorial, the Blue Hawks were unable to scratch out a win across their first six ballgames of the season heading into their mid-November clash with Lake Dallas.
The Blue Hawks recorded the first win in program history that night and did so in dramatic fashion, finding the end zone with 15 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter following a 33-yard touchdown pass from senior Brenner Cox to senior Jayden Hall for a 34-28 victory over the Falcons.
It didn’t come easy as Lake Dallas led 28-14 in the third quarter before Rock Hill scored the game’s final 20 points. The Blue Hawks ran back a muffed punt for a touchdown and then drew even on a 4-yard run by Cox early in the fourth quarter shortly after recovering an onside kick.
Cox dialed up some more heroics near the end of the ballgame, totaling 242 yards of offense and scoring three touchdowns.