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. Which 6-6A school will win the most district championships in 2020-21?
David Wolman: I'm giving the early edge to Flower Mound.
Among the early favorites not only in 6-6A but in all of the state as they pursue their second state title in three years, the Lady Jaguar volleyball team, which was ranked No. 1 in Class 6A at one point in 2019, is fortified on offense with arguably the top hitting duo in the area with seniors Kaylee Cox and Angelique Cyr. Junior Bella Ortiz earned newcomer of the year honors in the middle as well.
In cross country, Flower Mound returns every female runner from its fifth-place team finish in 6A a year ago, while the boys team welcomes back three long-distance runners who led the Jaguars to a bronze-medal finish in the team standings in Round Rock.
On the pitch, the nationally-ranked Flower Mound's girls soccer team didn't lose a game in 2020, despite playing in a highly competitive district that featured four state-ranked teams by Top Drawer Soccer, and next year, welcomes in newcomers Plano and Plano West (a combined 10 state titles).
Flower Mound's baseball team welcomes back standout pitcher and senior Santosh Gottam (0.62 ERA as a junior) and senior power hitter Jack Arthur (two home runs during the shortened 2020 season), while junior McKenna Andrews, senior Brooke Nauman and sophomore Landrie Harris represent the future of Lady Jaguar softball.
2. How is travel impacted by the new 6-6A layout?
Matt Welch: Although Plano ISD won’t be heading north on U.S. Highway 75 anymore, having split apart from Allen and McKinney ISD, there’s plenty of familiarity in visiting the four Lewisville ISD schools — having shared the same district from 2010-12 and 2014-16. The longest drive between those two school districts is 31 miles from Plano East to Marcus, although choosing to avoid a toll road bumps that figure up to 39 miles and nearly 50 minutes without traffic.
This year marks the first time PISD and Coppell have shared a district, and that shouldn’t inconvenience Cowboy fans too much when it comes to travel. Although Coppell has four drives to LISD that all cover 12 miles or less, visits to Plano Senior (18 miles) and Plano West (15) are plenty manageable, with East being the furthest hike at 25 miles.
In that sense, Coppell might actually be the district’s biggest winner, geographically.
3. Which 6-6A sport will feature the most tightly contested race – district title or playoff spots, in general – in 2020-21?
David Wolman: It doesn't get much better in the nation for girls high school soccer than District 6-6A.
Flower Mound, Marcus, Coppell and Hebron were all state-ranked by Top Drawer Soccer last season, with three of those teams listed in their top 50 national poll. Plano ISD has arguably the most tradition of any city in the state when it comes to high school soccer (a combined 10 state titles between Plano and Plano West girls).
The Lady Jaguars went without a loss during the shortened 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic and finished with an overall mark of 11-0-4 and in district play went 6-0-3, including ties against Hebron (1-1) and in the team's final game of the season on March 10 against Coppell (0-0).
Plano was a young but skilled team in 2020 and next season returns 10 players who earned their spot on the District 9-6A first and second teams, including junior Mackenzie Mieras, who garnered district Midfielder of the Year.
4. Name an athlete in 6-6A that could succeed in a sport he or she doesn’t currently play at the varsity level.
Matt Welch: The Plano Senior boys basketball team qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2014 last season and did so on the strength of one of the top defenses in 9-6A. At the heart of that effort was district co-defensive player of the year, junior Makhi Dorsey.
The point guard averaged a team-high 2.0 steals per game, showcasing a unique ability to create turnovers in one-on-one situations using his long arms and adept quickness and timing.
That skill set could also serve Plano well on the football field, particularly in the secondary. Dorsey’s defensive mindset and ability to win one-on-one matchups would mean trading steals and deflections for interceptions and pass break-ups.
David Wolman: Coppell junior Anthony Black could excel as a goalkeeper in soccer.
Watch any highlight video of Black playing basketball and likely to be included is a steal near mid-court in which the 6-foot-5 forward uses his wing span to take away a pass and dribble the ball to the basket for a dunk. In the area round of the Class 6A playoffs this past season for reigning two-time district champion Coppell against No. 11 Waxahachie, Black used his speed to dribble drive around an Indian defender and rose above the chest of another defender for a two-handed flush.
Black's long wing span was also on full display in football. Throw a fade pass in the end zone and he possesses the hands to make a one-handed catch in bounds. In a game last season against Marcus, made a one-handed catch while a Marauder defensive back held Black's arm. But, he got his right foot down and dragged the left one inbounds for the touchdown.