Where I'm coming from in the poll

Wed, 12/27/2006 - 9:25am
By: Michael Boylan

The Best of 2006 poll didn’t go exactly as planned. The Best of 2005 poll didn’t either, for that matter, but I trudged along anyway. What I had hoped was that my e-mail would light up with passionate pleas and heart-felt reasonable arguments for athletes to be recognized, but instead I got a few e-mails from some people who really tried to do the poll and the athletes justice and then a bunch of responses voting for a few categories or one or two people in particular. I guess the local high school sports scene is too vast for people to respond to all of the categories in a poll.

Also, I made an accidental omission this year and forgot to include lacrosse in the spring sports segment. Last year was the first time that we had two schools field both boys and girls teams and play a GHSA schedule and vie for a spot in the state playoffs. One team made it, the Starr’s Mill Lady Panthers, they would have got my vote for Best Lacrosse Team. As for best player, I don’t know how I would have answered. One reader also suggested I made a mistake in omitting competitive cheerleading. I never considered adding it to the polls, not because I don’t feel it is a sport but more because I would have no way of knowing who was the best. I don’t spend a lot of time looking at the cheerleaders at sporting events and that isn’t where they compete anyway.

On to my answers though, which I’m sure will stir up some controversy. When I vote for MVP, I always think about what a team would be like without that player. If a team would be significantly not as good as they were without that player, that player gets a lot of consideration. This does not suggest that this was the best player on the team or the one who scored the most points, it just suggests that without this player, the team would not have done what they did that season. For instance, no Channing Welch for the Fayette County basketball team likely means no 16 game winning streak and no Christian Hunnicutt likely means no state tournament appearnace for a Landmark team that was short on players. In track, I gave it to Raven Moore because of her dominance during the season and in the state meet, but there were also several others who could have just as easily been chosen for MVP as they won two events as well. Moore just seemed to be a spark for the team in other events though and kicked things into a higher gear in the meets that I saw.

You never want a tie in sports, but it happened in the poll. Fayette County’s boys basketball team was superb in the regular season and Sandy Creek’s Lady Patriots went deep into the state playoffs with a brand new coach. In golf, I couldn’t find a whole season’s worth of scores but Creighton and MacBean’s names kept popping up. Among the best games I saw in the spring, watching Whitewater write their names in the book of local soccer powers by sweeping McIntosh was just as big as seeing Fayette County stay alive in region baseball play by coming back from a huge deficit with a walkoff grand slam. In cross country, Austin Enriquez had one of the best seasons I have ever seen a runner have, but Matt Lethbridge repeated as state champ and helped lead his team to their first state championship. I couldn’t not give him my vote.

As for the games I won’t miss this year, the soccer games in this area this spring will be amazing, and I didn’t even include the Fayette County or Woodward Academy vs. Whitewater, McIntosh and Starr’s Mill games. It will be a scrum for a playoff spot and at least one of those schools will have a very good team sitting on the sidelines when the state playoffs start in the spring.

There are a few places where I see some potential controversy, so let me try to give my reasoning first and stave off some of those nasty e-mails or blogs. How did Jim Waller get my vote over Andre Flynn? Waller took the job at Landmark, had nine girls on the squad and got them to the sweet 16 of the state tournament. Sandy Creek as best volleyball team when Starr’s Mill was state runner-up? Sandy Creek took a team of eight sophomores and three juniors and went 50-12. They made the final four and lost to the eventual champions. Starr’s Mill was great, but I felt like they were expected to go that far.

Now on to my athletes of the year. This year I found two that were dominant in one sport but made a big impact on their team and just knocked my socks off when I watched them play.

Robby Davis carried his team this year when the chips were down. He did everything that he could possibly do to lead his team to victory and he gave it his all game in and game out. There were times that my jaw dropped at what I had just seen him do and just when I thought I had seen it all, he found a way to kick it into a higher gear. Ashley Pedersen was the same way. I have watched her pitch for a while now and I have seen her rear back and throw some heat, this year she also showed what she could do at the plate, showing great patience and tremendous skill.

As for coach of the year, Mike Earwood wins this one easy. With all of the injuries the Panthers faced and the adversity they endured both before and during the season, it would have been easy for the Panthers to have played down in one of those games at the end of the season and miss the playoffs. Instead they got healthy, stayed focused and returned to the state quarterfinals and then almost came back from a 21-0 deficit to make the semifinals. With Coach Earwood on the sidelines, the Panthers appear to be capable of overcoming any obstacle.

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