The end of one chapter gives way to the start of another, and such is the case for Northeast Dallas County athletics.
Throughout the summer, Star Local Media will reflect on the year that was in Northeast Dallas Country, while also looking ahead to what lies in store for 2019-20.
Obviously, there are a number of teams in each of the five represented districts that are outside of the coverage zone, so many of these answers will focus on Mesquite ISD, Rowlett, Sachse, Sunnyvale and Dallas Christian.
With that said, here’s the second installment of Three Questions for Northeast Dallas County:
1. What team made the biggest breakthrough last season?
There were several teams that broke playoff droughts last season, but none more dramatically than Mesquite football and Sachse boys basketball.
The Skeeters had not made the playoffs since 2013 and were coming off a 1-9 season. However, in its second season under head coach Jeff Fleener, Mesquite got pointed in the right direction in a big way.
They used a commitment to the locker room in the offseason to get stronger, both physically and mentally and the team’s camaraderie and confidence grew daily.
After dropping their season opener, the Skeeters won five of their next six games, highlighted by a last-second field goal that lifted them to a 20-17 victory over rival Horn. That stretch proved enough to carry them back to the postseason for the first time in five years.
Sachse had established itself as one of the top all-around athletic programs in the area, but that had not translated to the basketball court and they were coming off a tumultuous season that ended with a 2-25 record.
Zach Mikesell took over the head coaching position in the offseason and instilled a positive new mindset.
The players bought in and it showed on the court.
It took less than two weeks to double their win total from a year ago and they did not slow down.
Sachse proved they could compete with the best in the area when they used a buzzer-beater to take down Wylie, who was state-ranked at the time.
They closed strong with victories over Rowlett and Naaman Forest to secure their first playoff berth since 2016 and just the fourth in program history.
Through the road came to an end in the bi-district round against Jesuit, Sachse set a program record with 18 victories on the season and raised the bar for future teams to meet.
2. What team had the biggest turnaround last season?
Teams often get off to slow starts before they are able to regroup in time to make a push for the playoffs, but rarely has anyone gone through a turnaround like Horn football did in the fall.
The Jaguars knew their opening slate would be tough with back-to-back games against defending state champions in Allen and Highland Park and it did not get much easier with Cedar Hill and Arlington.
They had hoped the arrival of 11-6A play would offer a respite of sorts, but that was not the case, as close losses to Mesquite and Rockwall were followed by a 50-3 blowout to Longview, leaving Horn at 0-7 and searching for answers.
The team took some time off during its bye week hoping to return a different team and they did just that.
The Jaguars charged down the 11-6A stretch run with victories over Rockwall-Heath, North Mesquite and Tyler Lee to clinch their 11th straight playoff appearance that saw Mike Overton become the all-time Mesquite ISD leader in coaching victories along the way.
At 3-7, not many thought much of Horn’s chances in the playoffs, but they kept the momentum rolling with a 45-38 win over Temple and a 49-31 victory against Wylie to advance to the regional semifinals.
3. How does Dallas Christian rank among the TAPPS Division II programs?
Dallas Christian has long been a private school powerhouse, having accumulated 31 state championships in 10 different sports during the last four decades.
The Chargers qualified for the playoffs in each of the eight standings-based sports once again this year, but were unable to put together many extended runs.
That is partly due to other programs elevating their levels of play and there is a bit of bad luck involved, as well.
The Dallas Christian football team once again put together a standout campaign and they lost just once in the regular season to district rival Trinity Christian-Cedar Hill.
The Chargers were knocked out of the playoffs in the quarterfinals against Fort Worth Christian. In the next round, Fort Worth Christian fell to Trinity Christian-Cedar Hill, who went on to win the championship.
It was a similar story on the basketball court. The Dallas Christian girls advanced to the state semifinals before falling to eventual state champion Trinity Christian-Cedar Hill, giving the Lions their closest game of the playoffs.
The Charger boys did the same in a first-round loss to Frisco Legacy Christian, who would go on to claim the state title.
The girls soccer team was eliminated by eventual champion Grapevine Faith Christian and the softball team shared a district with state runner-up Bullard Brook Hill.
Thus the lack of as many extended playoff runs might be alarming to some Charger fans, but it also speaks to the high quality of other Division II TAPPS programs around the area.