When you reach the final week of the year, it’s nice to look back at what was accomplished.
In 2017, Northeast Tarrant County experienced something more than memorable — the unprecedented. State championships were captured. However, deep postseason runs were not relegated to the isolated program. When there was one, there was usually a second.
But we were also reminded that all things end. One of the area’s most celebrated coaching careers came to a close.
We’ll review the Top 5 stories of 2017. But Before we do, we have a bit of cleaning up from the 2017 Texas High School Football State Championship weekend. We picked all 12 games and split them:
Last week: 6-6
Final season total: 127-41 (.756)
Now, let’s check out the biggest headlines of the year.
No. 5: Grapevine and Southlake Carroll baseball make it to state
In 2017, Grapevine’s baseball program wanted to ensure that its 2016 Class 5A state championship was not a fluke. Carroll’s baseball program was considered a playoff contender, but wasn’t considered a 6A state tournament contender. But when the playoffs begin, you never know.
Grapevine marched its way back to Dell Diamond in Round Rock following an epic regional final win over Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District rival Colleyville Heritage. The Mustangs (33-13) advanced to the state championship game but fell to Port Neches-Grove, 4-2.
Carroll (32-11-1) went on a nine-game winning streak in the postseason, including an impressive of sweep of Arlington Martin in Region I finals to reach the state semifinals. However, the Dragons lost to eventual state champ Deer Park.
No. 4: A legend retires
What started as a three-year window to make something out of nothing in 1986 became a run that lasted four decades.
Sue Cannon promised her boss that she would resign before she was given her walking papers if she could not turn Euless Trinity into a respectable program. She took the Lady Trojan program to the playoffs in 15 of her final 18 seasons.
There was nothing to suggest when the season ended in February, the 69-year-old Cannon, owner of 1,117 wins, was even considering retirement. But it dawned on her toward the end of the school year that if she didn’t do it now, she may not ever do it.
So the ever-prepared Cannon freelanced her decision to hang up her whistle. Euless Trinity hired one-time assistant and Keller head coach Doug Sporrer as her replacement.
No. 3: December football fun
NET has 15 schools. When the Texas high school football playoffs began in mid-November, 12 qualified.
Through the bi-district round, eight survived. After the area round, there were four. Moving into the state quarterfinals — Carroll, Richland and Euless Trinity — all had survived. For the Dragons and Trojans, this was familiar territory. For Richland, this was new. The Rebels had never played a 14th game in school history, let alone play in December.
However, all three runs ended that weekend. Richland fell to Class 5A Division II state finalist Aledo. Carroll closed its season to 6A Division II state finalist Waco Midway. Trinity’s season concluded when it lost to 6A Division I state champion Allen. At no time in the history of this area had three teams played this late into a season.
No. 2: Justin Northwest, Keller basketball run to state
To be honest, Northeast Tarrant County used to be one of the least interesting locales for boys basketball in Texas. There just wasn’t a great brand of basketball played.
However, that reputation started to change over the last three years. In March, it culminated when Keller advanced to the Class 6A state tournament and Justin Northwest advanced to the Class 5A state tournament at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
The two signature players in the area, Keller senior guard R.J. Nembhard and Northwest sophomore guard Avery Anderson, had the ability to take over games. The runs ended in the state semifinals. Keller (32-3) lost to San Antonio Wagner. Northwest (33-6) lost to Fort Bend Marshall.
No. 1: Keller girls athletic dominance
Everybody likes a winner. But when it came to the girls programs off of Pate Orr Road, they appeared to get into a can-you-top-this type of phenomenon.
In April, the girls soccer team reached the Class 6A state semifinals before losing a heartbreaker to eventual state champion Pflugerville Hendrickson, 1-0, in overtime.
However, the softball team collected the fourth state championship in program history — and second consecutive — when it defeated Austin Bowie, 5-1, in early June in Austin. Behind sophomore pitcher Dylann Kaderka, the Lady Indians finished 35-6.
Then when the summer gave way to the fall, the girls cross country team burned with the passion to also repeat as state champions. They did. Thanks to a solid trio of seniors Julia Black, Abbey Santoro and Sydney White, Keller easily ran away from Lewisville Hebron and Carroll.
Other stories worth noting: Grapevine senior wrestler Brian Andrews closes career third consecutive state championship; Carroll boys swimming team wins seventh consecutive state championship with record 327 points; Carroll’s Reed Brown wins 3200 at 6A state track and field meet; Trophy Club Byron Nelson’s Sanaa Barnes win 6A high jump at state track and field meet; construction begins on Multipurpose Activity Centers at Colleyville and Grapevine High Schools.
These events shaped the athletic calendar. It’s fair to say 2018 has a tough act to follow.