MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
Here at our cubicle quadrant, mindful reflection is part of the job. While players and coaches stress foresight, we offer hindsight. In our efforts to polish the first drafts of history, we revisit, rehash, assess and analyze. Then we move forward.
It's in such a vein that we take one more studious look into the proverbial rearview mirror before accelerating toward a new school year. Here are our top plays, performers, moments and milestones from the 2011-12 season:
Brandon wrestling. The Eagles have occupied prep wrestling's mountaintop for so long, it's easy to take them for granted. We don't. In addition to capturing their 12th consecutive state team title and producing seven individual titlists, the Eagles placed fourth over the winter break at The Clash — the de facto dual-meet national championships — in Rochester, Minn.
Plant football. In “rebuilding” year, the Panthers won the 8A state title, their fourth in six seasons
Tampa Prep basketball. Only loss for Class 3A state champ (31-1) was against the 5A champ
Durant softball. “Cardiac Cougars” won last 10 games en route to 8A state title
Chamberlain softball. Chiefs rallied in both state tourney games to win 7A crown
Berkeley Prep volleyball. Bucs won their third consecutive state title and tied a bay area volleyball record with 15 state championships overall
Jesuit baseball. No, the Tigers didn’t get their long-sought-after state title, but they spent the majority of the season ranked No. 1 in the nation
Alvin Bailey, Armwood football (vs. Lakewood Ranch, Nov. 18). On a night when the Hawks found themselves in an emotional fog after learning their program was under investigation, Bailey (170 total yards, two TDs) bailed them out. Prohibitive underdog Lakewood Ranch led 31-28 with 3:10 remaining in this Class 6A playoff opener when Bailey called his own number, scrambled right and went 65 yards for a TD. Had Bailey not scored quickly to reverse the momentum, Armwood's season likely would've ended in Seffner instead of Orlando.
Sandra Akachukwu, Freedom girls track. Medaled in four events at Class 4A state meet
Madi Gonzalez, Chamberlain softball. Two home runs, including winner in top of seventh, in state title game
Reggie Brown, Jesuit football. Had breakthrough night (two INTs, fumble recovery, TD catch) against rival Tampa Catholic
Collin Woody, Wharton baseball. Eight-inning, four-hit shutout (12 strikeouts) and winning two-run double in district semifinal vs. Alonso
Chris Toney, Brandon baseball. Retired 20 of final 22 batters and gave up only two hits in Class 7A state semifinal win
The easiest choice on our list. After 29 seasons and seven previous final four trips, 50-year-old Tampa Prep boys basketball coach Joe Fenlon clinched his first state crown when the Terrapins topped Weston Sagemont 58-50 in the Class 3A title game March 1.
Pop Cuesta, Jefferson baseball. Earned career win No. 600 in quarterfinals of Saladino tourney, against Gaither coach (and childhood buddy) Frank Permuy
Randy Dagostino, Berkeley Prep volleyball. Started the season with his 800th career win and finished his storied career with a 15th state title
Earl Garcia, Hillsborough football. The colorful veteran became only the second county coach to reach 200 wins
Don Dziagwa, Tampa Catholic boys basketball. A season that ended with a splat began with a celebration; Dziagwa earned career victory No. 400 in a season-opening tourney in Dunnellon
East Bay boys basketball. The Indians captured their first district crown since 1970, 10 years before coach Billy Teeden was born
Durant 15, Alonso 13 (softball). Cardiac Cougars, who trailed 11-0 at one point of this Class 8A, District 8 final, were born on this wild night.
East Lake 64, Wharton 63 (boys hoops). We had the ‘Cats, who struggled from the floor in this 8A playoff opener, pegged for the final four.
Sickles 3, Jefferson 1 (baseball). Corey Johnson’s three-hitter helped the sub-.500 Gryphons eliminate the top-seeded Dragons from playoff contention in this district semifinal.
Brandon 48, Plant City 36 (football). The Raiders, 7-0 and mostly unchallenged coming in, trailed 35-0 at one point to the Eagles, who entered with a 3-4 record.
Claire Snyder, Hillsborough County cross country championships. Snyder, a sophomore who barely trained during the summer, topped a seasoned field to win the girls meet in 18 minutes, eight seconds. Defending champ Julia Rodriguez of Plant finished nine seconds behind.
Five sound bites
"If I never win another game, I will be able to say that I've won a state championship, and that's unbelievable. And I think it will get more unbelievable as the minutes and hours pass." — Fenlon, shortly after Tampa Prep’s victory in the 3A boys basketball final
"I was just simply asking for teams to recognize that I'm one of the best pitchers in the country and that I have a strong commit to Florida and I'm not just going to go out there and throw my education away for nothing." — Jesuit pitcher Lance McCullers on his perceived signability issues. It took less than two weeks for the Houston Astros to sign him
"You saved my life, man. Thank you, Coach." — Armwood DB Jarvis McCall to coach Sean Callahan in his national signing day speech. McCall, who didn’t play football as a freshman, is headed to USF
"I don’t even know if I completed three passes. But whatever, dude. We won the state championship." — Plant quarterback James Few, who rushed for a season-high 57 yards on 11 carries in the state final
"Before the game, Coach Cal was like, 'Matt, I just want to see dreads shaking and gold teeth,' and ... I just took it all out on the field. I was just running with that steam on my head. The mentality I had was just mad, mad, mad. I just wanted to get after Plant because they talk, talk, talk." — Armwood RB Matt Jones, who had a 30-yard TD run in the fourth quarter of the Hawks' shutout of Plant after a chat with Callahan
Compiled by Laura Keeley and Joey Knight, Times staff writers