As we put a close on the 2020-21 school year, I think it’s fair to say the past 10 months have gone better than many of us expected.
I remember talking to a couple of local school people who are in the know late last July, and we agreed that high school sports for the upcoming school year looked doubtful even with the re-entry plan in place.
And man was I happy to be proven wrong. We had just one Montgomery County fall sports team that was placed in quarantine, and the state of Indiana was one of just a handful of states that played high school football in the fall.
Yes, we had many interruptions in the winter, but like I wrote last week — we had only two county match-ups that didn’t take place.
Through all the hard work, patience and willingness to adjust from our athletic directors, coaches and most importantly, our athletes — we made it.
I wanted to take time to reflect on the high school sports that took place during the 2020-21 school year, and hand out some mythical awards as athletes, coaches and teams caught my eye this past school year.
Southmont’s success from its junior and senior classes continued to this school year and its youth showed us that the Mounties’ will be strong for years to come.
The Mounties won their second-straight boys’ tennis sectional title, a fourth-straight girls’ soccer sectional title and repeated as Sagamore Conference wrestling champions with six champions who were freshmen.
Crawfordsville boys’ basketball regained form with a pair of seniors who stood out and finished second in a tough SAC, while the Athenians stayed on top of the sectional in boys’ swimming and Crawfordsville won its first girls’ tennis sectional title in five years.
For some awards, that are completely mythical and pull weight other than my own opinion. I am continued to be blessed with outstanding athletes and coaches in our community, which makes my job easier and that much more enjoyable.
Team of the Year
There were some great teams this season, even some that were nearly unstoppable in the regular season but came up short in the postseason like Crawfordsville basketball and volleyball and Southmont golf, but the ones who stand-out most are those who rise up when the tourney starts.
Fountain Central continues to remain in our coverage area, and they continue to impress. The boys’ tennis team filled with six seniors won a fourth-straight sectional title and then beat Southmont in the regional semi-finals to advance to the regional championship.
And it took a comeback for the ages from No. 1 singles player Carson Eberly in the sectional final against Covington. Eberly along with his senior teammates Cody Linville, Brent Myers, Jacob and Sawyer Keeling and CJ Yager — you guys have been a pleasure to cover these last few seasons.
Others considered include Crawfordsville boys’ soccer, Southmont girls’ basketball and girls’ soccer.
Assistant Coach of the Year
This continues to be something that I like to think about and ponder throughout the school year. I take note of how assistant coaches work with athletes and how they work together side-by-side with the head coach.
This one is an easy one this year and in fact it’s a duo.
Tony Bean and Rhett Welliever.
Brett Motz was supposed to have a season as an assistant under coach John Froedge before taking over the Crawfordsville baseball program, but COVID-19 made sure that would never happen.
It was Bean and Welliever who helped make that transition easier, and coach Motz gave them praise all season long. The three together along with their squad helped make Crawfordsville baseball exactly what it’s always been — a winning culture.
Others considered include Southmont wrestling’s Rick Overfield, North Montgomery football’s Tom Lutz and Crawfordsville diving coach Dave Whitehead.
Coach of the Year
How about a rookie?
Southmont girls’ basketball coach Dan Burkman. The new Mountie coach helped Southmont to a 10-0 start and figured out a winning formula with girls he had never seen play until late October.
It’s been one of the most impressive things I’ve seen in this area. The talent was there, but Burkman helped uncover even more than we realized. It was fun to watch.
Others considered include Fountain Central girls’ basketball Jason Good, Southmont girls’ soccer Phil Keller and North Montgomery baseball coach Ryan Nuppnau.
Female Freshman of the Year
When I saw DeLorean Mason check into a basketball game for the first time, I wondered what new Mountie coach Dan Burkman was up to. And I quickly realized that she was going to be a special player.
Mason is likely the future point guard of Southmont girls’ basketball and was equally impressive on the track this spring as a sprinter.
Male Freshman of the Year
North Montgomery’s freshman class has lived up to the hype. With many guys thrust into varsity roles in football, basketball, baseball and other sports — a select few stepped up.
One thing I’m most impressed about this class is their ability to not back-down to the older competition and play like they belong out on the court and field.
Charger freshman Jarrod Kirsch was an instant 3-point threat for North Montgomery in basketball, and was one of the area’s top pitchers this spring on the baseball diamond, helping lead the Chargers to the sectional final.
I’m excited to see what’s in store for this talented class.
Female Mental Attitude Winner (Senior)
North Montgomery girls’ basketball struggled this season with everything but talent. Injuries, COVID-19 — you name it.
But, man were they resilient.
North Montgomery seniors Grace McClaskey, Nina Gable and Makinze Rominger could have all given up at any point in time. Thrown in the towel, quit on their team or stopped trying — but they didn’t.
They continued to show up to practice, fought through adversity and adjusted on the fly. And all the hard work paid off with a trip to the sectional final. It’ll be a season they’ll never forget and one that helped make them better individuals for years to come.
Male Mental Attitude Winner (Senior)
Picking up a sport you haven’t played in a while is no easy task.
Cale Hess did it.
Being the role player on a basketball team full of stars is hard.
Cale Hess did it.
The Southmont senior is one of the most selfless athletes I’ve ever covered, and I continued to hear praise from his coaches throughout the school year in both football and basketball.
He made his teammates better and that’s all a coach can ask for.
I do want to mention one other athlete, although he’s not a senior and that’s Crawfordsville boys’ soccer junior Landon Timmons.
In the sectional against Greencastle, Timmons, Crawfordsville’s goalie, was called for a red card when he inadvertently collided with an opposing player outside of the goalie box.
At that moment I could only think about what I might have done at that age and it wouldn’t have been pretty. But Timmons walked off the field, took his gloves off and immediately turned his attention to back-up goalie Yeison Cifuentes and encouraged him. The Athenians prevailed with a 4-2 win over the Tiger Cubs to keep their season alive.
Female Athlete of the Year
Too close to call.
North Montgomery and Southmont seniors Sidney Campbell and Sidney Veatch have been great ambassadors for their respective schools the last four years.
Not that our awards mean much, but they each won a pair of Journal Review Player of the Year honors this season. Records would show that’s not very common. Campbell in girls’ soccer and swimming and Veatch in volleyball and girls’ basketball.
Campbell helped reach Charger soccer to new heights and returned to the state finals in swimming.
Veatch took on a new position in volleyball and excelled and backed up her outstanding junior season with another all-conference senior season in basketball.
Others considered include Crawfordsville volleyball, basketball and softball player Olivia Reed, and Fountain Central volleyball, basketball and softball player Marley Massey.
Male Athlete of the Year
These two athletes made some of the biggest jumps I’ve ever seen.
Ty Lynas showed glimpses as a junior off the bench for Crawfordsville basketball, but saved his best for last — averaging around 18 points per game as a senior. In track, he had never hurdled before — yet won county and conference titles and qualified for the regional.
Southmont’s Trent Jones became the first Montgomery County athlete to advance to the state finals in two individual sports in one school year since North Montgomery’s Dakota Ramey in 2013 — and Jones is just a junior.
He got there in swimming and followed it up with a state finals qualification in the 400 meter dash in track and field this spring. Jones broke a pair of county records on his way to four individual titles at the county meet.
Others considered include Southmont football player and wrestler Riley Woodall, North Montgomery football player and baseball player Jacob Braun, and Crawfordsville football player and baseball player Andrew Martin.
Thank you to all for making this another enjoyable school year for this writer who continues to get paid to do what he loves and that’s cover high school sports.
Jared McMurry was born and raised in Montgomery County and is the Sports Editor of the Journal Review. He can be reached by email at email@example.com and by phone at 765-918-8656. Follow him on Twitter @jaredmac26.