Perched on a shelf in my office at the Trib is a pretty varied collection of sporting equipment. The stash looks nice from a decorative standpoint, but those footballs and baseballs and softballs carry a more legitimate function, too.
They make good props.
Each year when we dole out the Tribune-Herald’s Super Centex Athletes of the Year awards, we often pass those balls to our winners, who more than know what to do with them when the camera starts clicking. Without fail, Central Texas is blessed with some skilled jugglers.
It’s really no different from a team perspective. Just as one season bleeds into the next, so too does playoff success in Central Texas permeate the high school sports landscape. Yeah, so all you do is win, right, DJ Khaled? Get in line. The Super Centex region has you beat.
This 2013-14 school year produced 10 different state title teams across six sports. By any standard, that’s a rather impressive variety pack. Hence the reason for this final, well-deserved hat tip, in the Trib’s “Salute to Champions” section.
Let’s commence with football, since we’re all porkers when it comes to the pigskin. It was another classic season for Live Oak Classical, which captured its second TCAL six-man state title in the past three seasons in 2013. Quarterbacked by the crisp-chucking Paul McCaw and engineered by do-it-all playmaker Calvin Hill, the Falcons devoured San Antonio FEAST in the title game, 36-26. Even a bump up to the more competitive TAPPS field might not slow this budding juggernaut.
Live Oak isn’t just fleet-footed when it comes to the gridiron. Live Oak also snared TCAL titles in girls’ cross country and boys’ track and field this year. The cross country championship was the fourth straight for the Lady Falcons, which is what we in the sportswriting biz might call a “serious winning streak.”
On the track side, Live Oak athletes set 18 personal records at the state meet, finishing in a flourish. And nobody could catch Anthony Allman all year, as the record-setting runner shattered the TCAL state standards in the 800 and 1,600 in winning those races at state. Allman also won the state cross country title in the fall.
You want to talk dominance? Slip into the La Vega Lady Pirates’ high-topped kicks and strut a step or two. La Vega throttled all comers on its way to a 35-0 season and the Class 3A state basketball title. Whether it was the fresh-squeezed dishes of point guard Calveion “Juicy” Landrum or the powerful inside presence of 6-foot-4 post Erin DeGrate, the Lady Pirates dismantled teams in myriad ways.
And, sorry to be the bearer of bad news if you’re a fan of some other school in the area, but La Vega returns its entire starting lineup for next year.
Trophy cases don’t get much more jam-packed than those belonging to the Vanguard golf programs. In what has become a rite of spring, the Viking boys claimed their staggering 10th straight title at Stone Tree Golf Club in Killeen. Oh, and the Lady Vikings are sailing along nicely, too. They won state by 87 strokes for their second straight championship. TAPPS officials could move Vanguard’s tee boxes back 20 yards and it still wouldn’t matter. They’ve got this winning thing aced.
Cougars run like cheetahs
On the surface, Rosebud-Lott’s state championship at the always-competitive UIL state track meet may have seemed like a surprise. After all, it was the Cougars’ first title in any sport in a dozen years, since the school’s glorious football run of 2002. But if you were really paying attention, you couldn’t miss the Cougars’ track talent. I mentioned to the Trib’s Jason Orts before he departed to cover the state meet in Austin, “Keep your eye on the Rosebud-Lott boys. They could really rack up some points.”
Jason did, and the Cougars obliged. They dashed away with the crown by totaling 61 points, including gold medals from the 4x100 relay and Andrew Moore in the open 100.
Diamond girls sparkle
The softball diamond sparkled at three different points, with Reicher, Vanguard and Crawford all closing their seasons by hoisting championship trophies. Reicher and Vanguard won TAPPS state titles at the same day at adjacent fields in Waco. The Lady Cougars leaned on the strong arm of pitcher Callee Guffey in stifling Fort Bend Christian, 9-1, in the 4A state final. Lucky for Vanguard that its players were wearing their gloves, otherwise they might’ve chewed their nails to the nub. The Lady Vikings needed 14 innings, twice the length of the usual high school softball game, but survived for an epic 7-6 win over Halletsville Sacred Heart.
Crawford, meanwhile, tallied its second UIL state championship in the past three years with a talented collection of players that had been stringing Ws together since W was in office and Crawford was known as the “Western White House.” (Seriously, many of Crawford’s seniors had won a state Little League title together way back in the day).
That’s not even mentioning all the Centex teams that pulled within an eyelash of their own state titles. Teams like Fairfield football or Crawford volleyball or Troy baseball. They helped make this a memorable year, too.
So maybe I should trade out all those balls in my office for a bunch of championship trophy props instead. At least I know I won’t have to travel far to find some.