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.
This year has been a year that nobody will soon forget with the COVID-19 pandemic touching every facet of life, including high school sports, which saw the start of its athletic year delayed by one month.
Starting last week, Little Elm’s top athletes, teams and games will be recognized with nine different awards.
With that said, Star Local Media presents its ninth edition of the Varsitys, the second part of a three-part series.
Mateer throws for 497 yards vs. Allen
Rarely does a quarterback have a career night against Allen’s defense. But Little Elm junior quarterback John Mateer was a one-man wrecking crew on Nov. 6, 2020.
The signal-caller threw for 497 yards and three touchdowns, picking apart the Eagles’ state-ranked secondary and keeping the Lobos within striking distance for the majority of the game.
Mateer’s big night wasn’t enough as Allen outlasted Little Elm in a 68-44 shootout at Lobo Stadium.
Little Elm compiled 610 yards versus Allen’s 625. Mateer completed 39 of 51 passes to eight different receivers. Four of those pass-catchers caught at least seven balls, led by an eight-catch, 150-yard night for Josh Joseph. Mateer threw touchdown passes to Walter Roddy-White, Cameron Taylor-Butler and Jason Jackson.
The effort helped Little Elm keep pace and only trail 24-21 late in the first half before Allen closed out the half with nine unanswered points for a 33-21 halftime lead.
Mike McBride, wrestling
Little Elm was one of the pleasant surprises in the area in its inaugural season as a program.
The Lobos qualified six wrestlers for the Region I-6A Tournament despite competing against some of the toughest programs in the state, including 12-time state champion Allen as well as Prosper and Plano West. Kayce Bolle and Jax Brown both qualified for the state tournament, with Brown placing fifth in the 285-pound division.
And the guiding force behind Little Elm’s success was its head coach.
Little Elm had two head coaches before the team ever competed in its first dual of the season. Joe Marino was hired as the first head coach in program history, but he resigned during the Christmas break, citing health reasons. McBride, who was on Marino’s staff as an assistant coach, was subsequently promoted to head coach.
Not only did Little Elm have its second head coach before the season began, but the Lobos had an inexperienced team. Of the 25 wrestlers that the Lobos had on their roster, only a couple had any previous experience. But McBride and his wrestlers overcame a lot of obstacles to make it work.
Boys basketball rallies to defeat Denton Braswell
In a season in which Little Elm was forced to step away from the court twice before District 5-6A play commenced due to COVID-19 concerns within its program, the Lobos finished off a strong second half to conference play with a resounding 72-70 win over Denton Braswell – a Bengal squad that was already bound for the playoffs.
Cooper Macaulay poured in 23 points with six 3-pointers as Little Elm erased a pair of nine-point deficits to cage the Bengals in this Feb. 20 contest.
Braswell led by nine points on three separate occasions during the third quarter, but Little Elm continued to fire away.
Alum Brian Hunter Jr. made the last quarter of his high school career count, scoring 12 of his 17 points during the frame, including a 3-pointer with 3:19 remaining that gave the Lobos a 63-56 lead.
“One thing that I learned when I moved out here is that Little Elm teams don’t quit,” said Dominique Parker, Little Elm head coach. “They fight and they fight until there are zeroes across the board. We showed that tonight.”