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 2021-22 school year.
For some, that means a fresh start as they look to get back on the winning track, while for others, it represents an opportunity to build on what they accomplished in the past year.
Throughout the summer, Star Local Media will reflect on the year that was for the Mesquite, Rowlett and Sachse areas, while also looking ahead to the district’s storylines and subplots for the 2021-22 school year.
After looking at the year in review, today we start to take a peak into the future, starting with the fall sports.
1. What local volleyball teams can contend for district titles?
The 9-5A volleyball season featured one of the most balanced groups of teams in the state, as the battles for the district championship and the final playoff berths came down to the final day of the regular season.
It was a district in which no team was able to navigate unscathed, and closely-matched enough to where the teams at the bottom of the standings notched victories over postseason squads.
When the dust settled, Lebanon Trail and Reedy shared the 9-5A championship, with Liberty and Memorial claiming the final two playoff berths.
But in as balanced a district as the Frisco ISD group is, maintaining a spot in the upper tier is no easy matter.
The playoff berth for the Trail Blazers was their third in a row and the district title a first for the young program.
Lebanon Trail does have holes to fill with the graduation of several all-district seniors, including with most valuable player Tyrah Ariail, who has taken her talents to USC.
Senior Marissa McLaughlin and juniors Symone Sims and Angela Henson will try to continue the Trail Blazers’ winning ways.
Though they graduate defensive player of the year Tatum Fouche, the Lions might be the frontrunner with a talented returning class that includes senior outstanding blocker Kelsey Perry and seniors Addison Corley, Jordan Chapman and Hannah Ogden.
The Redhawks return first-team junior McKenna Gildon, while the Warriors have senior Finley Evans back in the fold, but the door could be open for new playoff teams to emerge.
Wakeland, who finished fifth, has a solid returning group with junior newcomer of the year Hannah Pfiffner, senior Madison DeMauro and junior Audrey Clark and they can certainly make a push.
Frisco is another to keep an eye, as after a .500 season a year ago, they will rely on all-district performers in seniors Lexi Guinn, Ella Belknap and Rachel Ross, junior Mari Hernandez and sophomore Addison Sohosky.
2. What football teams will contend for district titles?
Because of number of high schools in FISD, the city rivals often have to beat each other up during the course of the regular season in the 10-team 9-5A, leaving only one to be crowned the district champion.
Football is a little different story, where due to differing enrollments, FISD is split up among two different districts in two separate divisions.
While that leaves more opportunities for more teams to make the playoffs, it does not mean the road is any easier.
There are six FISD teams in 5-5A Division I, but that is also a field that includes powerhouse Denton Ryan and a very solid The Colony program.
Lone Star might be the team that has the best shot of dethroning the Raiders. The Rangers return 12 starters from last year’s regional semifinalist team. They have one of the best quarterbacks in the state in senior Garret Rangel, a solid offensive line anchored by Kyle Lofye and Mike Terry and a talented playmaker in Ashton Jeanty.
Reedy could also be a team that makes some noise if they can develop some playmakers around first-team all-district quarterback A.J. Padgett.
The other four FISD teams with the smaller enrollments are over in 7-5A Division II, which was won by Lovejoy a year ago.
Frisco finished second last season but will be breaking in a new quarterback and must replace all-everything performer Chase Lowery.
Another interesting team to watch could be Liberty, who is coming off its best season in nearly a decade.
The Redhawks have 12 starters back in the fold. Junior Keldric Luster broke onto the scene to earn offensive newcomer of the year honors after accounting for 2,401 total yards and 16 touchdowns.
Senior Evan Stewart is one of the most talented players in the state on the outside at wide receiver and first-team all-district senior linebacker Daniel Ajayi is back to anchor the defense.
3. What are some football milestones to keep an eye on?
This is a little different for the FISD programs as outside of Frisco High, no team has been playing prior to 2006.
In fact, the nine other FISD teams combined have a total of 460 victories, which is still more than 100 short of the Raccoons’ 565.
As far as milestone win totals, Centennial is 84-99 overall and an unlikely run to an undefeated state title would be the only way it would reach 100 this year.
Wakeland became the second team to reach the century mark in all-time wins last season, as their 6-5 campaign gives them exactly 100 in their history.
Lone Star, despite a 0-10 season in their inaugural year in 2010, is the best bet to reach that mark, as it has emerged with the best overall winning percentage of any FISD program and with a 93-42 record overall, another solid season will seem them pass the 100-mark, as well.