If you were looking for one statement that would sum up the 2013-2014 high school season, this one should work: It’s not how you start but how you finish.
After a pretty tame 2013 with the usual playoff participants including the Carroll boys and girls cross country teams repeating as state champions, the spring of 2014 delivered more than its share of headline news.
As we recap the season for our coverage area, it’s time to reflect upon what happened, because you really do need a scorecard to tell who the players are.
Nelson boys and girls soccer advance to 4A state tournament; boys win state
Byron Nelson has established itself as a strong overall athletic program. Both the boys and girls soccer programs had been poised to win a state championship first. The talent running through both squads appears endless. The girls played in the 2012 4A state championship. But 2014 proved to be a signature moment.
Both advanced to the state tournament in Georgetown. Howard Putter’s boys program captured the state championship on April 19 with a 2-1 victory over Pharr Valley View. The girls fell short as they lost in the semifinals to Austin Vandergrift, 2-1, in a shootout. But you can’t deny what Philip Salyer’s team accomplished.
For this area, realignment is usually pretty boring. But not this time. For starters, the University Interscholastic League changed the district classifications by moving 5A to 6A, 4A to 5A and so forth. On Feb. 3, Grapevine dropped to the new 5A and into District 6-5A with several Fort Worth schools, Birdville and Lake Dallas. Nelson jumped to 6A and moved into District 5-6A with Justin Northwest, the Keller schools, Denton Guyer and Denton Ryan.
Meanwhile, the appetizing move was putting Carroll in the same district (7-6A) with Euless Trinity, Coppell, Colleyville Heritage, Hurst L.D. Bell and the Birdville schools. Expect a slugfest each week in just about every sport.
The signing day switch
National Signing Day on Feb. 5 didn’t have the fanfare that it did in 2013. However, the news leading up to it stunned recruiting followers. For months, it seemed pretty clear that Keller’s defensive and offensive linemen Sione and Maea Teuhema were heading to Texas. They committed back in the spring of 2013.
But when Texas changed coaches from Mack Brown to Charlie Strong, everything changed. About one week before signing day, the two flipped their commitment to LSU. Sione signed on the first Wednesday in February. Maea should join him when he signs next February.
The coaching carousel – Part 1
Back in January, I theorized that you could expect a big name or two to move on after the school season. There was more than just a trickle. It became a flood. Let’s start with Phil Blue taking over as the new Executive Athletic Director for the GCISD. He was approved back in February. But by the time he arrived, he had to replace both head football coaching positions at Grapevine and Colleyville Heritage. Dave Henigan had already left for Denton Ryan and Mike Fuller headed to Colleyville Heritage.
In some respects, Blue caught a break because he could hire who he felt was best to run those programs and be leaders at each campus. He found Plano East’s Randy Jackson to run Grapevine and Austin Westlake’s Darren Allman to head Colleyville Heritage. Each hire came in April.
Then there was Bill Patterson’s sudden departure from Justin Northwest to Sherman. NISD AD Susan Elza selected Marble Falls offensive coordinator Bill Poe. Poe also started in April.
The coaching carousel – Part 2
Actually, the carousel started in December when longtime Grapevine baseball coach Tim McCune suddenly retired. Following Jeff Harp handling the 2014 season on an interim basis, Blue hired Corpus Christi Carroll’s Lee Yeager. Then it continued in January, when Northwest volleyball coach Dayna Horak retired. Canyon Randall assistant Amy Gaston is taking Horak’s place.
But perhaps no move created such a polarizing reaction than when Carroll volleyball coach Arthur Stanfield was removed. And this was coming off an appearance in the state tournament. But the district attracted four-time state champion coach Ryan Mitchell from Lucas Lovejoy. Finally, Grapevine’s girls basketball program will have a new leader, as Lindy Lombard returned to the district from Saginaw Chisholm Trail and succeeded Steve Ganninger. Lombard and Colleyville Heritage’s Dianna Sager are also the girls campus coordinators.
Honorable mention: We certainly don’t want to forget Northwest pole vaulter Desiree Freier, who completed a magnificent career with her third consecutive 5A state championship in May. Freier will now move on to Arkansas.
As summer now settles in, it’s going to be hard for 2014-2015 to top what 2013-14 provided in terms of news. Maybe the news will be watching all of the new eras develop.