There were buzzer-beaters and blowouts, perfect seasons and a perfect 10, and 10 memorable months of D.C.-area high school sports action. Here are the most memorable stories of the year, in no particular order, as written and compiled by the AllMetSports staff:
Extreme Conference Makeover: After more than 40 years of using a three-tiered classification system, the Virginia High School League debuted its new six-class alignment for the 2013-14 sports calendar. The changes were met with varied opinions, as the football power point system was tinkered with, traditional district names like the Concorde and Liberty were swapped out for not-so-creative conferences labeled by number (e.g. Conference 5, Conference 6) and the new playoff tree format opened the door for several teams to meet as many as three times during the postseason.
Hoops hotbed: With three state championship teams dripping with Division I talent, Prince George’s County announced itself as the D.C.-area’s public school basketball mecca in 2013-14. There was Wise, which charged through Maryland 4A and won the state title game by the biggest margin (27) of any state champion in decades. There was Potomac (Md.), with a starting five of Division I locks that took home Maryland 2A hardware. Then there were the Eleanor Roosevelt girls, who were simply untouchable in a 29-0 run to the 4A state championship.
They did it for the Vine: There was no play and almost no time left on the clock when St. John’s guard Darian Anderson hoisted a three-pointer from the left side during the Cadets’ thrilling road contest against WCAC boys’ basketball rival Paul VI. But in one of the season’s most exciting endings – and easily the best performance by a supporting Vine-r in the video shot by our very own Chelsea Janes – Anderson drained the game-winning shot as time expired, lifting the Cadets to a 71-68 win in Fairfax.
2nd & 15: Even as Centreville racked up victory after victory, keeping every opponent at 20-point distance, the Wildcats still entered the Virginia 6A football state championship with plenty to prove. Staring back at them was perennial power and nationally-ranked Oscar Smith, which featured National Gatorade Player of the Year Andrew Brown. But the Wildcats had more, in the form of seven talented all-state players, including All-Mets A.J. Turner and Chad Wiggins, leadership through quarterback Scott Walter and inspiration by way of lineman Issac Samuel, who emerged as an all-conference player despite living in a homeless family shelter. In routing the Tigers, 35-6, Centreville hoisted its second state title trophy, won its school-record 15th game of the year and finished atop The Post football rankings.
Perfection six times over: Winning a state title is a tough enough task in itself but to do it unblemished is a rarity. In addition to the aforementioned Centreville football team five squads finished the year undefeated. Sherwood softball won its third consecutive 4A state title in its third straight undefeated campaign. The Raiders of Eleanor Roosevelt were rarely tested en route to their first Maryland 4A girls’ basketball state title since 2009. Loudoun County volleyball won its sixth Virginia 4A state title in seven years in dominating fashion. And it took double overtime and a shootout for Battlefield girls’ soccer to cap an undefeated season with the Virginia 6A crown. The George Mason girls’ soccer team didn’t face quite as much resistance, rolling to a 24-0 season and a record seventh consecutive state championship.
Prepped for glory: After a few “down” years and two seasons without an IAC title, Georgetown Prep boys’ lacrosse reclaimed its spot atop D.C.-area lacrosse with a 19-1 season and san IAC title win over Landon. Led by a monster season from All-Met Player of the Year Charlie Horning, the Little Hoyas knocked off their rival Bears twice, handled WCAC champs Gonzaga, and lost just one game, in overtime to St. Albans, to stand at No. 1 in the Post’s rankings from the beginning of the 2014 season to its end.
A girl among boys: A year after needing a clutch putt on No. 18 to win her first Maryland individual girls’ state title, Atholton’s Bryana Nguyen left no doubt to her supremacy over the area’s golf scene this past fall. On the first day, the North Carolina recruit carded a bogey-free round of 5-under 66, which set a new state record among girls. Nguyen went on to close out her second straight individual championship with a two-day score of 8-under 134, shattering the previous record for boys and girls by six strokes.
Northwest territory: Northwest became one of the most unexpected Maryland 4A football champions with a magical 2013 season that ended with a 33-16 win over Suitland in a rain-soaked 4A title game. The Jaguars, who stumbled twice against Montgomery County competition, were never the front-runner to emerge from the region, but they edged traditional power Quince Orchard 28-20 and then blew away Paint Branch to earn the title game berth. Sophomore quarterback Mark Pierce emerged as one of Montgomery County’s most potent passing threats, bolstered by a cast of speedy backs and pass-catchers such as Josh Gills, Rasheed Gillis, E.J. Lee and Matt Watson, who helped run over opposing defenses late in the season and run the Jaguars to the title.
Give him a hand: Though he stands 6-foot-4, 256 pounds, Da’Shawn Hand more than felt the weight of the recruiting world as his 18th birthday approached. On Nov. 14, the Woodbridge defensive lineman and nation’s top senior according to Rivals.com whittled his hordes of college suitors down to one. The Post had the privilege of chronicling Hand’s senior season in an award-winning online documentary series entitled “First & 17,” setting the stage for his nationally televised announcement, when he chose Alabama over Florida and Michigan.
The passing of legends: The area football scene lost two pillars in a matter of six months. Longtime Gaithersburg coach John Harvill, considered the grandfather of high school football in Maryland, died in December. Former Theodore Roosevelt coach Daryl Tilghman, known for his infectious spirit in helping the District’s youngsters, died at age 48 in May.
Champions on the Potomac: Confusing as it was for the AllMetSports staff sometimes, it was a good year to be a boys’ basketball team from Potomac High School. Maryland’s Potomac finished atop grueling Prince George’s County 2A and posted a 23-5 record on its way to a Maryland 2A state title. Led by Maryland-bound Dion Wiley, rising star Randall Broddie, and Paul VI transfer Quadree Smith, the Wolverines boasted one of the area’s most talented and highly touted rosters for any school, public or private. On the Virginia side of the river, Potomac High School in Prince William County turned in a similarly stellar season, going unbeaten through 26 games before losing. Led by All-Met Randy Haynes and big man Trey Porter, the Panthers capped their banner year with a Virginia 5A state title.
Panthers own the night: In the WCAC finals doubleheader on Feb. 25 at American University, repeat All-Met Ariana Freeman came through in the clutch for Paul VI to lift the Panthers over St. John’s for their first WCAC title. The boys’ basketball team followed that performance with a rout of DeMatha for its second WCAC title in three years. It was the first time the boys’ and girls’ teams from the same school won WCAC titles since St. John’s in 2000.
Cardinal rule: Bishop Ireton edged its way into the D.C.-area girls’ lacrosse elite with its first WCAC and VISAA championships. The Cardinals dominated traditional favorite Good Counsel in the WCAC championship game and then rallied to beat perennial powerhouse St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes in the VISAA title game to finish the season No. 1 in The Post’s rankings for the first time in team history.
Clock strikes midnight on Cinderellas: Behind a raucous student section and an abundance of patience in its half-court offense, Whitman boys’ basketball made an improbable run to its first Maryland 4A state final since 2006, where the Vikings fell to Wise. After starting 4-7, Centreville girls’ soccer relished in its role as the underdog to knock off previously undefeated Cosby to reach the Virginia 6A state final. The Wildcats pushed Battlefield to double overtime and penalty shots but eventually fell to the Bobcats for the second time in 10 days.
Transfer of power: In an effort to crack down on the widespread trend of athletic-related transfers in the city, the District of Columbia State Athletic Association introduced a new rule last year that would force transfers to sit out a season. The rule was expected to have a direct impact on Friendship Collegiate, a football power that has been a transfer hotbed over the past few years.
End of eras: Several football programs across the area had high-profile exits over the past year. Natalie Randolph, who at one time was the only known female head high school football coach in the country, stepped down after four seasons at Coolidge, while Aaron Brady left his post at emerging WCAC power Gonzaga for a new job in Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, after 10 years of establishing Quince Orchard as one of Maryland’s best football teams, Dave Mencarini shocked Montgomery County by accepting the head coaching position at Urbana.
Loudoun County dynasty: With three Division I commits in their starting lineup, Loudoun County’s volleyball team finished as the The Post’s wire-to-wire No. 1 team en route to its sixth state title in seven years. The Raiders (31-0) defeated Jamestown in four sets for the Virginia 4A title, their 49th straight victory. The Raiders will be without coach Jenica Brown next fall after she resigned less than two months following the state title win. Brown posted a 222-11 record over the past eight years.
First time for everything: In the first year of Virginia’s new classification system, several teams navigated new playoff setups to the first state titles in history. Briar Woods girls’ soccer won its first championship when it took home the 5A crown, and the Dominion girls did the same in 4A in a dramatic game that needed 15 penalty kicks to name a victor. South County softball also won its first title, that with a 6A championship game win over Cosby, while the Westfield and Woodgrove girls’ lacrosse teams claimed their first titles in Virginia 6A and 5A, respectively. Hours after its graduation ceremony, Broad Run boys’ soccer brought home the 5A title — its first, too.
Wootton field hockey surfs to state final: The Patriots, led by nationally ranked skimboarder Alex Yokley, stayed undefeated on a run to the first state final in school history under 2013 coach of the year Kearney Blandamer and got past Bethesda-Chevy Chase and Dulaney, both in overtime, before losing to Severna Park. The Falcons earned a 21st state title, the most of any program in the country.
Something’s Bruin: For the past three seasons, the Lake Braddock boys’ tennis team has had to watch Langley end its season before the state tournament. This year, the Bruins not only beat the Saxons in the Virginia 6A North region finals, they earned the school’s first ever state title over their long-time rivals, 5-3. Nick O’Connor and Scott Belcher clinched the championship with a come-from-behind win at No. 3 doubles that sent the Lake Braddock fans into delirium.
Clear eyes, full heart, neon green, can’t lose: Patuxent’s Tyler Crounse and Rafiq Dougas (who found support in the close-knit community and team after the death of his parents) led an unlikely charge from the bottom of the Calvert County peninsula to M&T Bank Stadium with a win over rival Huntingtown in the regular season, a late drive against Gwynn Park for the region title and a rout of Patterson. The Panthers, always supported by a raucous #Paxnation crowd wearing neon green, fell to Middletown in their first state final appearance since 2001.
Emerging powers: T.C. Williams announced itself as a Northern Virginia soccer powerhouse this spring after nearly a decade without a state tournament appearance. Led by the brilliance of junior All-Met Eryk Williamson, the Titans won their first North region title in 40 years and their first state championship. The team they beat in both instances, Washington-Lee, enjoyed its best season since the 1960’s behind All-Met Player of the Year Maycol Nunez (37 goals). Both returning next season, Williamson and Nunez are poised to continue their rivalry and again make runs at postseason glory.
Puck is purple: Wire-to-wire No. 1 in The Post’s hockey rankings and the MAPHL champions, Gonzaga ran through opponents (Purple Puck championship, Landon, Calvert Hall) under coach of the year Nate Jackson and player of the year Nick Platais in goal.
By George!: The George Mason boys’ and girls’ soccer teams were downright dominant en route to sweeping the Virginia 2A soccer titles. The boys earned their second straight crown by going 22-1. Meanwhile, the girls notched their seven consecutive title, going 24-0 for their first unbeaten season during their dynasty.
Back for four: All-Met Wrestler of the Year Alfred “Baby J” Bannister solidified his place in Maryland wrestling history with his fourth straight MIS title, becoming just the fifth wrestler to accomplish the feat. The McNamara senior and future Maryland Terp finished his career with two National Preps championships and an overall record of 272-8, making him the winningest wrestler in Maryland history.
Sherwood forest: The Warriors rolled through county opponents, the state semifinals and to third state championship with the pitching of player of the year Meggie Dejter and two-time All-Met Nicole Stockinger. Seven players on Sherwood’s roster are on the same club team and were taught by Bob Boyd, whose passion for coaching changed the landscape of Montgomery County softball. He died from cancer earlier this month
Not too shabby: Oakton’s Lizzie Stewart concluded her high school career with a 127-2 overall record (80-2 in singles), including dominating the Virginia state tournaments for back-to-back titles in both singles and doubles. The Cornell commit helped the Cougars reach the state semifinals her junior year and the finals as a senior. Stewart’s last loss was during her freshman year at St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes, where she played her first two seasons.
Started from the bottom: After a fifth-place finish in the division and 3-4 meet record in 2013, Sherwood gymnastics won its first division title in school history with a 7-0 record. Without two of their top gymnasts, Toni Williams and Robin Benard, the Warriors still finished in second place during the MCPS championships. All-Met selections Coach of the Year Gary Peters, first teamer Cassidy Deerin and honorable mention Ellie Wiersma led the Warriors.
Seventh straight for Northern: The Patriots had their 77-game winning streak snapped in March by Chopticon for their first jolt of adversity this spring. Northern went on to win 21 of its next 22 games to land in its seventh consecutive Maryland Class 3A final. The Patriots fell behind early in the final, but with repeat All-Met Jess Cummings in the circle, they rallied to defeat Linganore, 4-2, to keep their remarkable seven-year state title streak alive.
Any time, any pool: As a 15- and 16-year-old, two-time All-Met Swimmer of the Year, Katie Ledecky won an Olympic gold medal, set two world records and claimed four world titles on the sports’ two biggest stages. At Metros this year, Ledecky showed she can shine in any pool. The Stone Ridge junior crushed the American record in the girls’ 500-yard freestyle during the Friday prelims. She set the record, the fastest time ever by an American, in front of a crowd of swimmers, parents and officials. The camera crews showed up the next day when everyone had expected her to attempt a record-breaking swim.
Going the distance: Caroline Alcorta completed her senior season with state championships in cross-country, indoor track and outdoor track. She also was a part of a West Springfield distance medley relay team that won national championships during the indoor and outdoor seasons, as well as the Penn Relays. She’ll run track and cross-country at North Carolina this fall.
Locals hit a triple in Maryland: After winning two total Maryland state championships in the past three years, area baseball teams dominated the state tournament this year, winning three of the four classifications for the first time since 2001. Anne Arundel County crowned two champions, as Chesapeake claimed the 4A title and Southern won 2A with a thrilling walk-off win, while Cody Morris threw a two-hitter to lead Reservoir to its first championship in 3A.
No swim left behind: As a sophomore, All-Met Swimmer of the Year Andrew Seliskar missed the national high school record in the 100-yard breaststroke by less than half a second. This year, the Jefferson junior who tries to do it all posted the fastest time ever by a high school swimmer during prelims at the Virginia 5A state championship. He said he “didn’t think there was any point in wasting a perfectly good swim.”
Think we missed a major story? Let us know in the comments below.
Compiled by: Matt Brooks, Bryan Flaherty, Chelsea Janes, Jacqueline Kantor, Tariq Lee, Angela Lewis, Lacy Lusk, Brandon Parker, Tom Schad, Kelyn Soong and Roman Stubbs.