Winter sports began earlier this week with bowling, and girls basketball got underway on Friday.
So before we get too far into the season, let’s put a ribbon on the fall season with the Scottie Awards, which recognize top teams, athletes, performances, and other morsels.
All votes have been certified by the accounting firm of Dewey, Cheatem & Howe.
Team of the year: This is never easy because we had some great teams. But I have to go with the Xenia girls golf team. The Bucs went undefeated and set a school record with 13 wins while qualifying for the district golf tournament. They shot higher than 200 just once in the regular season and had the No. 2 and 3 lowest averages in the Miami Valley League with junior Brynna Mardis at 40.7 and senior Olivia Wagner at 41.1. Only Greenville’s Kenna Jenkinson went lower, averaging 38.
Coach of the year: Given the COVID-19 pandemic, I am declaring every coach in our coverage area the coach of the year. I got the idea from a colleague and I think it’s justifiable. And while this may seem like a cop out, it’s not. Coaches had to prepare for opponents they could scout, AND an opponent they could neither see nor know when it could possibly rear its ugly head. Teams had games cancelled and rescheduled, had players in and out of quarantine and the coaches managed to make it work.
Female athlete of the year: I will let Cedarville girls volleyball coach Ashley Snider explain why Gabrielle Tobias earned a Scottie, after missing a year due to serious knee injuries and summer gym time due to COVID. “This is her first season back on the court under any capacity and it’s been nothing short of amazing. Coming off of an injury can always be tough, but she has tackled this season head on with confidence, perseverance, and a lot of grit.” Tobias was second in the Ohio Heritage Conference with 462 digs and third with 5.7 digs per game.
Male athlete of the year: Cross country is usually the first thing to pop into my head because of the nature of the sport. But I can’t ignore what Fairborn’s Hunter Warner accomplished this season in football. He ran for more than 1,000 yards in seven games and was a monstrous play-wrecker on defense. At linebacker, he had 65 tackles, two sacks, an interception and a pair of fumble recoveries. Take his tackles per-game average out to 10 games and he’s at 92, which would put him No. 4 in the Miami Valley League after everyone else had their stats extended to 10 games. Not sure he ever came off the field.
Game of the year: I saw a lot of great contests this fall. But the winner is one I was not at. Carroll quarterback Ryan Chapman tossed a six-yard TD pass to his brother Steven with zeros on the clock as the Patriots beat Chaminade-Julienne, 20-17. Carroll trailed, 17-7, after three quarters but clamped down on defense and pulled off the comeback over a Greater Catholic League Co-Ed rival … on the road. Social media was blowing up after the game.
Female rising star: Greeneview freshman Jaleigh Stafford. On the soccer field she scored eight goals and had nine assists and was ninth in the Ohio Heritage Conference with 25 points. Her assist total was tied for second in the OHC. The Miami Valley Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association voted her to the Division III All-Sectional third team. Stafford was one of four freshmen on the first, second, or third teams. It’s going to be fun to watch her play the next few years.
Male rising star: Xenia sophomore golfer Wyatt Cowdrey shaved nearly three strokes off his average from last season and finished sixth in the Miami Valley League this year with a 40.50 average. He fired an 88 at Reid Park in Springfield to lead Xenia in the Division-I sectional. That score tied for 21st and only three other freshmen or sophomores finished ahead of him.
Football family: I’m sure there are a lot of legacy situations. But what exists at Carroll is by far the best. Bernie Williams, who lived in Beavercreek, along with some brothers played for the Patriots decades ago. All four of Bernie’s sons — Matt, Pete, Ryan, and A.J. — played for Carroll in the 1990s and early 2000s and this season A.J. had a son, Jake, wear the red, white, and blue. He was the GCL’s co-leader with four sacks. I hear there are more Williams kids on the way in the coming years.
Moment of the year: Back in 1996, Xenia Christian was a charter member of the Metro Buckeye League. In 2015, it changed its name to Legacy Christian Academy and brought over a, um, legacy of having zero boys soccer titles. That changed on Oct. 9 when the Knights beat Emmanuel Christian, 8-0. The Knights unofficially won the title on Oct. 1, when they beat perennial power Troy Christian, 3-2, on the road.
Most quotable: Legacy Christian Academy senior golfer Liz Miller. Easily one of the top golfers in southwest Ohio, she’s just as good in an interview. I could tell she was mature beyond her years and confident in her abilities. But she wasn’t cocky. And when she talked about a couple of the things she experienced at the state golf tournament, I found a sense of humor as well.
Most quotable, junior edition: Xenia Wee Bucs fifth grader Gage Stephan. This young man has a future in public speaking. Not only did he speak well above his grade and age, he said all the right things after the team won the Gem City Bowl and I could tell he was being sincere. Asked about a 78-yard TD run, he credited his offensive line and backs and receivers for blocking. Asked about the defense, he first gave credit to the coaches.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.