Our annual Top 10 stories of the season usually involves much discussion about which highlights make the cut.
Of course, 2020 has been no ordinary year and the fact of the matter is that the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on high school sports could have made up a majority of this list.
But while there is no doubt what the No. 1 story is, local sports has done its best to persevere and move forward to the best it can, and there are still plenty of positives to reflect on during the past 12 months.
Here is the second installment from The Mesquite News’ Top 10 Spots stories from the past year.
5. Wranglers capture boys soccer district title
Though the regular season did not run its official course, the West Mesquite boys soccer team does have something it cannot take away—a district championship.
One year after claiming their first outright district title in program history, the Wranglers defended that crown, clinching it with a 4-0 win over rival Poteet.
When the season was suspended, and ultimately cancelled, West Mesquite was the lone 13-5A team without a district loss, posting a record of 7-0-3.
Given their run it was little surprise that West Mesquite also dominated on the all-district team, with 15 selections.
That contingent was led by a quintet of superlative awards in most valuable player Junior Saavedra, defensive player of the year Noberto Flores, defensive midfielder of the year Jarius Robledo, co-newcomer of the year Elliot Mendoza and coach of the year Jeremiah Villarreal.
The other Wrangler honorees included Jose Estrada, Rodolfo Coronel, Edgar Lopez, Jesse Velasquez, Josue Murillo, Alexis Gonzalez, Carlos Lara, Jesse Baez, Pablo Hernandez and Eduardo Martinez.
4. Sunnyvale girls basketball advances to third round
It has been quite a decade for the Sunnyvale girls basketball team.
Since 2011, the Raiders have made 10 consecutive playoff appearances, won eight district championships and earned one state title in 2015.
Last season marked another successful chapter, as Sunnyvale flirted with adding another state trophy to the case.
The Raiders opened the season with 15 consecutive victories, and after a couple of losses to top opponents in tournament play, got back to work.
Led by coach of the year Jill McDill, most valuable player Daniela Marcor, defensive player of the year Brooke Daniel, 6th man of the year Brinley Andrews and first-teamers Lena Meras and Takoya Stallings, Sunnyvale rolled to the district title with a perfect 10-0 record.
The Raiders avenged a loss to Athens from the previous season and then took care of Gilmer with a 56-46 win to advance to the regional quarterfinals for the sixth time.
Sunnyvale had its chances to return to the regional tournament, but Brownsboro was able to rally from an early deficit to claim a 55-49 win, as the Raiders finished the season with a 36-3 record.
3. Horn boys basketball captures first district championship
The Horn boys have enjoyed some success on the basketball court over the years, but they made history in February.
In a winner-take-all showdown, the Jaguars posted a 55-43 victory over Rockwall on the final day of the regular season to claim the program’s first outright district championship.
District coach of the year Ondra Waddy and 11-6A most valuable player Zaakir Sawyer, who signed with Louisiana-Monroe, led the way, but there were several other key pieces, including first-team selections Preston Aymond and Devon Hancock and second-teamers Jarrell King and Isaiah Chandler.
The win over Rockwall was the sixth in a row for the Jaguars, and they were not done yet.
Horn cruised past Temple in its playoff opener in a 81-51 rout and then knocking down clutch free throws to pull out a 70-67 victory over McKinney to advance to the regional quarterfinals for just the second time in history.
2. Dallas Christian football falls in state title game
Dallas Christian had been dominant for much of the season, outscoring its first 10 opponents by a combined score of 522-76 en route to the TAPPS Division II state championship game.
But a story book ending and the ninth state championship in program history were not meant to be, as Austin Regents returned an interception 69 yards as time expired to capture a 26-20 victory at Panther Stadium in Waco.
It was a tough end for a senior-laden group that wanted to finish their chapter with a trophy.
Four-year starter T.J. King amassed more than 2,000 yards and 33 touchdowns passing and rushing, and was also a standout on defense.
Shon Coleman, a transfer from Sachse, rushed for more than 1,400 yards and 19 scores in his only season with the Chargers.
Dallas Christian also got big plays on offense from the likes of Parker Robertson, who had two touchdowns in the state title game, Brett Judd, Tristan Turner, Tripp Roberts and Heath Flanagan.
The defense was also stout all season with Garrett Tillett, who had eight interceptions, Gabriel Grubbs, Kynan Gilcreath, Matthew Mata, Trevor Stegman, Tyler Williams and Jaiden Jones, as well as King, Flanagan, Robertson, Judd and Coleman.
1. COVID-19 pandemic hits high school sports scene
The month of March is traditionally one of the busiest of the high school sports calendar.
There are the state basketball tournaments, the first round of the soccer playoffs and the real start of softball, baseball, golf, tennis and track and field.
Last March will be remembered for a long time and not for what happened on the playing fields.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to spread across the country, the University Interscholastic League made an announcement on Mar. 13—during the middle of the state boys basketball tournament—that all sanctioned events would be suspended starting on Mar. 16 and running through Mar. 29.
Though officials remained hopeful, the following week, the UIL extended that suspension through May 4, and then on Apr. 17, they made the decision to cancel the remainder of the spring sports season.
It was an unprecedented decision in an unprecedented time.
There were additional hurdles to clear as the new school year arrived in August.
The start of the Class 6A and 5A football seasons were postponed for one month until late September.
While the volleyball season was able complete its state tournament in mid-December, the delay of the football season has pushed the state championship games back to January of 2021.
With the recent introduction of a vaccine, optimism is there for a return to normalcy, but so too is the memory of the severity of the situation and the possibility for history to repeat itself in the future.