The 30th ESPY Awards, the annual ceremony devoted to honoring standout professional and collegiate athletes and teams of the past year, will air on July 20.
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.
Over the past school year, Plano has showcased no shortage of notable individual and team athletic achievements, so it is only appropriate to put the last season of local citywide sports into an award-winning perspective. In the coming weeks, the city’s top athletes, teams and games will be recognized among nine different awards.
With that said, Star Local Media presents the 10th edition of The Varsitys.
Samantha Ennin, John Paul II track and field
As just a freshman, Ennin didn't wait long to assert herself as one of the top track athletes in all of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools.
She set two TAPPS 6A state meet records as part of an outing that saw Ennin compete in four different events and capture gold medals in three. Her record-setting marks came in the long jump and triple jump, posting an 18-3 1/4 in the former and a 37-10 1/4 in the latter to win gold in both events.
On the track, Ennin teamed with Gianna Reny, Destiny Jones and Lanie Meeks to win gold in the 4x200-meter relay. That group clocked a 1:43.23 and was back on the medal stand moments later after racing to second place in the 4x400 relay with a 4:01.25.
Henry Huffstetler, Plano boys soccer
Huffstetler's lone season in goal for the Wildcats was a memorable one, earning 6-6A goalkeeper of the year and Star Local Media all-area goalkeeper of the year honors.
The keeper's finest work, however, came during the postseason as one of the catalysts for Plano's run to the Class 6A state championship game. Huffstetler willed the Wildcats to victory on more than one occasion, authoring a torrid streak of success in goal while defending penalty kicks.
For all the fortune that goes into successfully stopping just a single PK, Huffstetler bucked those odds by stopping five during the Wildcats' memorable postseason. He successfully turned away at least one PK in four of Plano's first five playoff wins, including two during a shootout in the regional quarterfinals against Allen.
Even in the Wildcats' dramatic state final against Lake Travis, Huffstetler kept Plano afloat with eight saves during regulation and overtime — against an opponent that had totaled 109 goals on the season, no less — before Lake Travis got the last laugh in a shootout.
It became commonplace to hear chants of "Hen-ry" rain down from the Wildcats' student section following one of the keeper's acrobatic saves during the postseason, and Huffstetler backed up that support by piecing together one of the great playoff runs in program history.
Plano's pursuit of perfection
With a wealth of senior experience returning, the Plano boys basketball team had reason to believe it could improve on its finish from 2021, when it fell one win short of qualifying for the playoffs.
But no one in the program could have anticipated what would become of a historic 2021-22 season —one that produced the first-ever undefeated regular season in team history.
What began with a 90-47 victory over Tyler on Nov. 13 concluded with a 58-42 rout of District 6-6A rival Marcus on Feb, 15, sending Plano into the playoffs with a 32-0 record.
It was the kind of feat rarely seen in the UIL's largest classification and one that took the Plano basketball community by storm. As the Wildcats continued to pile up wins, the crowds and attention surrounding the program swelled to a level not seen since the program's state championship days in the mid-2000s.
"It takes so much work to be able to do something like this, especially in a district like this and in a state like this," said Dean Christian, Plano head coach, following his team's 66-32 win over Plano West on Feb. 8. "We're humbled by the whole achievement, and with all due respect to the ones before us like Joseph Fulce, Lawrence Mann Jr., John Roberson and all those guys who were the last prolific team to come through here, we're just honored to be mentioned with them."
Ultimately, a loaded Region I-6A bracket halted the Wildcats' run in the area round in a meeting of two teams ranked in the state's top 10. A fourth-quarter comeback by Plano was cut short in a 58-56 loss to Lake Highlands.