One of the more entertaining aspects of covering high school sports in the Metroplex are the interactions – both personal and as a spectator – with athletes.
During my time as a reporter, I have had the opportunity to profile and follow the career paths of some noteworthy athletes in Plano ISD and surrounding areas, and it’s time to look at a handful of students who impressed this past season and could be in line for even bigger roles in 2019-20.
Today, let’s look at five of the top returning athletes from Prestonwood Christian and John Paul II who will impact their teams in various ways next season.
Jerand Bradley, John Paul II football, junior
The Cardinals could be in for one of the better offensive campaigns in recent program history this fall and part of that centers around the size and firepower within their receiving corps. Bradley is at the forefront of that unit, among the top returning private school receivers in the Metroplex after compiling 593 yards and six touchdowns as a sophomore.
The 6-foot-5 pass-catcher was a nightmare for opposing secondaries during 7-on-7 competition, notably as an end-zone fade target, and that should remain the case once the pads go on.
Luke Savage, Prestonwood baseball, senior
The Lions’ baseball team won’t be lacking in experience for the 2010 campaign, returning two-thirds of their starting lineup and one of TAPPS’ premiere pitching rotations. Savage is a key part of both, establishing himself among the top arms in the state last season by going all of district play without allowing an earned run.
The hard-throwing right-hander, already verbally committed to TCU, helped lead the Lions to a 31-4 record last season and was one of three all-state first-team selections from Prestonwood, joined by fellow seniors Ryan Patterson and River Ridings.
Nevaeh Tot, John Paul II girls basketball, senior
Tot and her two brothers, Jalen and Jajuan, were tremendous boons to the backcourts of John Paul’s two basketball programs last season, with Nevaeh taking the reins of the Lady Cardinals and producing an all-state first-team campaign as a junior.
A dynamic offensive player with more than 1,500 career points scored on her resume, Nevaeh and senior Delinah Haley led John Paul to the second round of the postseason and could be in line for a deeper run next year with all but five players returning.
Caroline Stogner, Prestonwood volleyball, senior
Stogner was a vital part of the Lady Lions TAPPS 6A state championship run last season, forming a potent one-two punch on the outside with fellow senior Noelle Piatas for one of the state’s top hitting units last season. Stogner shined plenty at the state tournament as a junior, racking up 18 kills – on a .586 hitting percentage – and 13 digs en route to all-tournament and all-state first-team honors.
Prestonwood has more than enough experience to be right back in the title hunt this fall, and Stogner will be a big reason why.
Kristina Melen, John Paul II girls soccer, senior
The Lady Cardinals are in their halcyon age on the soccer pitch, having qualified for the state semifinals the past two seasons and advancing to the quarterfinal round the previous four.
Falling a mere two wins short of a state title last spring, John Paul benefited from a banner campaign by Melen, who scored 23 goals and added four assists for the Lady Cardinals, receiving TAPPS all-state second team and her school’s first-ever district Offensive Player of the Year superlative.
That kind of firepower should serve the Lady Cardinals well once again in 2020.