Another year is in the books, and before we look ahead to 2011, it’s time to look back at some standout memories from the last 12 months. Here are our top 10 moments in high school sports from 2010, in no particular order:
The passing of Proposition 100: Tensions were high in May, when an educational budget crisis put several sports and coaches at risk. However, the measure did go through, which will likely allocate $1.8 billion toward education the next three years. It won’t mean fancy new uniforms or equipment, but the passing of Proposition 100 helped save several small sports from being cut around the Valley, and the teaching jobs of numerous coaches from being eliminated. For once, maintaining the status quo was a huge sigh of relief.
Chaparral and Hamilton’s football dominance: There wasn’t much drama in the 5A football classifications this season. The Firebirds and Huskies both went undefeated and won state titles, using superior talent and depth to wear down every opponent. Both programs are in great shape and look to be powers for years to come. Hamilton has won three straight titles, and Chaparral two. Whether or not the dominance is a good thing, well, that’s an argument for another day.
Conference realignment: A massive re-work of the conferences was finalized in May, as financial concerns caused the Arizona Interscholastic Association to drastically reduce the number of state tournaments. Approximately 35 percent of state and region tournaments were cut, and conferences are now reclassified by sport. The change was mostly met with positive feedback, and this fall’s individual sports began the process of switching over from the current format. All sports will change over to the new alignment by the 2011-2012 school year.
Red Mountain’s softball title: The Mountain Lions were one of the state’s top teams entering the playoffs, but didn‘t make it easy on themselves. Red Mountain overcame some off-the-field issues and a loss in its first game of the postseason, but rallied back to advance to the championship game. Once there, Mel Willadsen’s pitching and Courtney Sherwin’s two-run home run off of St. Mary’s ace Dallas Escobedo were the difference in a 2-0 victory.
Dobson’s surprise girls hoops title: Phoenix St. Mary’s was a heavy favorite to win the girls basketball championship in March, while Dobson’s Cinderella run seemed destined to end. However, Andrea Jones banked in a 3-pointer to send the game into overtime and then nailed a jumper with 6 seconds left in the extra session as the Mustangs captured the 5A-I hardware with a 61-59 victory.
Jahii Carson’s emergence: The electric boys basketball point guard transferred to Mesa in 2009, then showed throughout the season that he was one of the state’s top players. His stock rose even more in the summer, when Carson outplayed some of the top point guards in the nation. The 5-foot-10 senior originally committed to Oregon State, but switched to Arizona State in August, giving the Sun Devils one of their highest-ranked in-state signees in program history. Carson is currently leading the Jackrabbits in scoring and is the main reason Mesa is one of the top contenders for the 5A-I championship.
Transfers: Every year, high-profile athletes change schools. This season, football stars Davonte Neal, Jordan Morgan and Malcolm Holland topped the list. Neal went from Laveen Cesar Chavez to Chaparral, helping the Firebirds to a 5A-II title with his elite play on offense, defense and special teams. Morgan went from Valley Christian to Chandler, but transferred to Lakeside Blue Ridge before ever playing a game with the Wolves. Holland played at Hamilton as a sophomore, transferred to Chandler as a junior, and back to the Huskies as a senior. Hamilton won a third straight title with Holland’s help.
Chandler girls win national track title: Jasmine Todd and Hannah Carson led the way as the Wolves easily won the 5A-I state track championship. But it didn’t stop there. Chandler was one of 12 girls teams from around the country invited to Eugene, Ore. to compete for a national championship. The Wolves’ state dominance translated well, as they scored 7,721.65 points to capture the national title, scoring 200 more points than the closest competition.
Desert Ridge football run to title game: The Jaguars started the season 2-3, and then after they started playing better, an injury came to quarterback Parker Rasmussen. However, Jordan Becerra stepped in admirably at quarterback, and the team’s transition from a passing team to a running team couldn’t have gone more smoothly. Desert Ridge upset Chandler in the first round of the state tournament and advanced all the way to the championship game, where it threatened Hamilton until the final minute.
Kevin Cron tying home run record: Mountain Pointe catcher Kevin Cron sure looks the part of an imposing home run hitter, and he delivered on it last year. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound junior tied the state record with 22 home runs, matching Desert Vista catcher Corey Myers’ feat from 1999. Cron tied it in style, mashing a home run over the left field wall in the state championship game at Camelback Ranch stadium.