The school year began centered around the city’s new crown jewel, McKinney ISD Stadium.
Fortunately for McKinney, McKinney Boyd and McKinney North, the 2018-19 athletic year will be remembered more for the triumphs and wins on their respective playing surfaces than the $70 million palace that has become the new standard for high school stadiums nationwide.
With many successful programs to pick from, look no further than the multiple triumphs of Bulldog Nation. This season, North’s entire athletic program was the standard-bearer for MISD athletics, qualifying for the playoffs in all eight standings-based sports with the boys basketball, girls soccer, baseball and softball teams each winning at least one playoff game.
All four teams also won district championships, but the highlight of the campaign was without a doubt the surprisingly deep postseason run made by North softball, which went to the regional tournament for the first time since 2008. On their road to regionals, the Lady Bulldogs run-ruled two highly touted Frisco ISD teams and went from the area through the regional quarterfinal round outscoring opponents by an eye-popping 35-1 while sweeping two series.
Over in Lion Nation, although they only had their volleyball, boys soccer and football teams qualify for postseason play, McKinney’s athletic programs were competitive in most standings-based sports. Under first-year head coach Marcus Shavers, the football program went from a team at one point destined to finish 0-10 to among the hottest teams in the area.
McKinney football closed the season in dramatic fashion, winning four of its last five regular-season games, including beating crosstown rival Boyd for the first time in nine seasons to make the playoffs for the second consecutive season. Although they dropped a close game to Wylie in the bi-district round to extend the program’s drought to 21 years without a playoff win, Shavers and the Lions let everyone know they are for real and a program on the rise.
On the volleyball court, the Lionettes made a memorable run, finishing the year with 26 wins – including two playoff victories – only one season removed from placing seventh in one of the toughest districts in the state. McKinney was ranked as high as sixth in the state – not bad for a team projected to place sixth in its district at the beginning of the season.
And still, the story of McKinney’s athletic year can’t be told without talking about the resilient boys soccer team, which finished second in one of the most difficult districts in the state. The Lions went on to beat Naaman Forest and Belton to reach the regional quarterfinal round for the second consecutive season before a heart-breaking shootout loss to Sachse at MISD Stadium ended the deepest soccer run in the city.
Finally, it’s time to highlight Red Nation.
After experiencing disappointments by not making the playoffs in football, volleyball and boys and girls basketball, Boyd began getting its mojo back in the spring when both the boys and girls soccer teams, along with the baseball and softball teams, qualified for the postseason.
Despite the Broncos extending streak of consecutive playoff appearances, both soccer teams for Red Nation couldn’t get on track in their lone respective playoff games and were both ousted in the bi-district round.
Things would make a dramatic turn on the softball and baseball diamonds, as Boyd experienced its most success in either sport in recent seasons. The softball team rode the right arm of star sophomore Kinsey Kackley, who recorded 481 strikeouts to lead the program to its first playoff appearance since 2015 – just two seasons after winning only two games. Despite losing a thrilling series to Wylie in the bi-district round, the Lady Broncos’ softball program is in outstanding hands for the foreseeable future.
Lastly, the kings of MISD sports this season, and the only team to come out of the beast that is Region II to play in the state tournament – the Boyd baseball team.
Besides being hands down the best team in program history, the run the Broncos made to get to the state tournament will be talked about for decades to come. Boyd won an improbable four do-or-die contests against state-ranked No. 8 Rockwall-Heath, No. 6 Allen. No. 2 The Woodlands and No. 1 Cypress Ranch, which featured three MLB minor league draft picks, in consecutive weeks to qualify for state for the first time ever.
All in all, every school in McKinney has a program or two that raised the bar.After such a banner year, student-athletes, coaches and athletic directors should be highly commended because all-around success at this rate doesn’t come around too frequently.