Sunday brings on a new year and as 2016 closes, high school sports once again gave the fans and media something to talk about with spectacular play after play.
Records were set, history made, championships won and the reality of disappointment made for an exciting year.
As an old page is turned to a new, we take a look back at the Top 5 high school sports stories from the Star Telegram - happy new year and bring on 2017.
1. ALEDO FOOTBALL BACK ON TOP
After exiting the 2015 season with a loss in the state semifinals, the Aledo Bearcats wanted nothing more than to redeem themselves and get back to their championship way.
Aledo was looking for a seventh UIL state title, and the Bearcats started off with an early scare. They trailed late in the fourth in the season opener against Colleyville Heritage before Dillon Davis hit Jeffery Carter for a 9-yard TD with 1:24 left. Logan Childs’ INT with 20 seconds completed the 41-36 win.
In Week 3 vs. Mansfield Legacy, the Broncos traded blows with Aledo, but an early 14-0 lead proved to be enough in a 59-41 victory.
How about the other eight regular season games - Aledo outscored opponents 509-103. The Bearcats got first half scares from Justin Northwest and Saginaw Boswell before pulling away after halftime.
It wasn’t until the state semifinal and championship games where Aledo showed its champion form. Mesquite Poteet scored on a 78-yard pass and one play later, on a 17-yard fumble return to take a 14-7 lead in the second quarter. Aledo tied the game and recovered a fumble to go ahead at halftime, then freshman Jase McClellan took over with a career-high 217 yards rushing in a 38-14 victory.
In the 5A Division II title game vs. CC Calallen, Aledo only had 191 yards on offense, but the defense stepped in to help for a 24-16 win - putting the program into a tie for fifth in state history with seven football championships. McClellan was named Offensive MVP, James Williams Defensive MVP.
2. ESMIE GONZALES BREAKS NATIONAL RECORD
Think about this for a second - 316 goals in a high school soccer career. Maybe better yet - 109 goals for a season.
Yes, that’s Esmie Gonzales for you. The FW South Hills star did just that this year for the Scorpions - setting national records for both girls and boys.
She set the career record with her 287th goal on March 3. Her 109 goals this season came out to an average of just under five goals per match. As a freshman, Gonzales scored 77 times.
Now at Southeast Missouri, Gonzales had six goals in 15 games, with two coming in the final game of the season, Oct. 27 vs. University of Tennessee at Martin.
3. KELLER/BIRDVILLE BRING TARRANT COUNTY SOFTBALL TITLES
For the first time since 2003, the Star Telegram had two softball champions in one year in the Keller Indians (6A) and Birdville Hawks (5A).
It was May 14 and Keller looked all but eliminated and only in the third round. The Indians were facing Plano West, trailing 2-1, two on and two outs, bottom of the seventh.
That’s when Shelby Henderson drilled a Sierra Lange pitch to deep right field to keep Keller alive.
The Indians went on to beat Lubbock Coronado and Timber Creek to get to state. They survived a Humble Atascocita rally in extras off Camryn Woodall’s sac fly during the state semifinals and then Kaylee Rogers blanked Pearland in the title game.
It was Keller’s third state title in program history, tying them for the most in the state’s largest classification. Rogers (MVP), Henderson, Woodall, Amanda Desario all made the all tourmament team.
Keeping it in the 817 just nine miles away, Birdville capped off its Cinderella season with a state title in its first trip to the state tournament.
Leading up to the tourney, the Hawks didn’t really have a playoff scare, having played just one elimination game. They knocked out two-time defending champ Aledo in the third round.
It wasn’t until the final vs. Gregory-Portland where the team faced true adversity. The Hawks trailed 4-0 in the third inning before scoring the next six. GP regained the lead 7-6 in the sixth before Elena Garcia’s solo shot tied it once more.
In the top of the seventh, the No. 9 hole hitter Emily Powell drove in the go-ahead run, inches away from a 3-run home run. GP had the tying run on third in the bottom half of the inning, but freshman pitcher Grace Green sealed it with a strikeout.
Garcia (MVP), Green, Calie Burris, Gianna Valforte, Maygan Paul made all tourney.
4. KENNEDALE GIRLS SOCCER, SENIORS CEMENT LEGACY
The Wildcats dominated the state the past two years, winning back-to-back UIL state soccer titles, but for the seniors, they went out in style.
Kennedale defeated Jasper 6-0 in the 4A championship on April 14 - ending a playoff run with three-consecutive shutouts. The Wildcats outscored opponents 23-1 in the final four games.
Abby Olmos recorded a hat trick in the first nine minutes on her way to MVP honors. Alondra Olmos, Allie Thornton and Eryka McIntyre also made all tourney.
In the past two years, the seniors combined to go 51-4-1, 21-0-1 at home. They were 14-0 in district play with a 130-2 scoring margin. Overall, they won 89 games, scored 251 goals, but more importantly, left the school as two-time champions.
Now at SMU, Thornton put together one of the most impressive careers in the state. She’s the school’s all time scoring leader with 133 goals, a career-high 42 this past season, and was a four-time district MVP.
5. Grapevine baseball wins first state title
Under first-year head coach Steve Hutcherson, the Mustangs finally did it. They defeated district foe Lake Dallas in the reigonal final then controlled the state tournament at Dell Diamond in June.
They defeated Whitehouse in the semifinals (7-0) and San Antonio Alamo Heights in the title game (9-2) to finish the season with a 35-6 record. Tanner Gibson, Boone Montgomery, Ty Jones, Kyle Flamm and Connor Neuman (MVP) all made the all tournament team.
However, Grapevine found trouble to start the playoffs. The Mustangs played three games in all of the first three rounds. Granbury defeated them 2-1 in Game 1 in the first round before rallying to win the next two. In the next round, they won Game 1 vs. Wichita Falls Rider, lost Game 2 and won Game 3, 9-1.
Against Canyon, the Mustangs went through the same path before winning the final game 6-1. In the final four games, Grapevine outscored opponents 31-5.
Grapevine Faith football wins TAPPS title
FW Dunbar boys basketball reaches 5A state semifinals
Northwest football wins first playoff game
Keller girls cross country wins state title
Carroll’s Reed Brown breaks 29-year 3200m record in track; becomes first Texan in 31 years to win Foot Locker Nationals in cross country
Richland football wins first playoff game in 32 years
Carroll tennis captures boys singles and doubles titles
Timber Creek football/softball, Boswell football/volleyball just four of the many area teams to have history making years
Carroll boys swimming captures sixth consecutive state title
Grapevine’s Brian Andrew wins a second consecutive wrestling state title
LD Bell girls gymnastics wins 20th state title
Everman’s Angel Palacios wins tennis singles title
Favorite photos of 2016
Male Athlete of the Year
Female Athlete of the Year
Players of the Year
Football Offense: Kennedy Brooks, Mansfield
Football Defense: Jalen Catalon, Legacy
Volleyball: Maddie Goings, Aledo
Boys Basketball: Josh Parrish, Arlington Seguin
Girls Basketball: Trinity Oliver, Euless Trinity
Baseball: Blair Henley, Arlington Heights
Softball: Sam Bradley, Azle
Boys Soccer: Alan Mendoza, North Crowley
Girls Soccer: Esmie Gonzales, South Hills