School is out for summer, and another year of high school athletics is in the books.
And what a year it was.
There was the resurgence of the Minden Crimson Tide on the gridiron under head coach Spencer Heard and led by a lethal passing attack and punishing defense.
There was the highly-publicized recruitment of North Webster’s Devin White, which only intensified after an arrest the day of a Knights second-round home playoff game. White played later that day.
Who could forget the upstart Glenbrook Lady Apaches? The program had fallen on hard times, but 2016 arrived with promise and ended with a 23-6 season (22-3 in the regular season).
There was a deep run made by the North Webster baseball team that ended one game shy of the top 28, the hiring of a 22-year-old head football coach at Glenbrook, as well as a head coaching switch for the Lakeside football program.
There was a scandal surrounding the 2016 Minden Holiday Classic basketball tournament that ended long-time Minden boys head coach Alan Shaw’s season (and possibly, his tenure at the school).
The Pit, Minden’s beloved home stadium, was condemned. However, football will be played in The Pit next season in some form or fashion.
In Springhill, the Knights and Tide met on the football field for the first time ever, with Minden defeating North Webster 27-20 in a classic battle. It was the first meeting of the parish rivals since Minden and Springhill met in 2009.
Doyline made history, taking the runner-up spot in Class B track with a two-man team of Tyreck Wilson and Jatavion Jackson. Wilson won the state championship in the 400, 800, 1600 and 3200 meter run.
Eric Greene and Alisa Lander swept individual state championships in Class 2A Cross Country at Lakeside. Greene is set to continue his career at McNeese State University. Lander will return.
North Webster’s Xavious Eason and Wesley Franklin ran to individual track state championships, the Lady Knights 4×100 relay did the same and Glenbrook’s Amelia Christy took center stage at the MAIS AA Tennis Tournament, winning a state championship as a sophomore. Fellow Glenbrook sophomore Da’maza Robinson also earned a state title, his in the 400 meter dash.
So, yeah. I would say it was a good year.
Without any further delay, I hand out my end of year awards.
Female Athlete of the Year
There were few ladies who excelled in two sports this season like Glenbrook’s Carsin Spurlock.
The senior had a stellar campaign in her final year on the diamond and hardcourt.
Spurlock earned first team all-district honors in softball and basketball, earning all-MAIS honors in basketball.
Spurlock anchored a softball lineup that reached the State Tournament, batting third and playing catcher for the first time in her high school career. On the basketball court, Spurlock shined as the star of a Lady Apache team that finished 23-6, averaging 13 points per game.
Male Athlete of the Year
This was a tough choice, but I went with North Webster’s Blake Atchley.
The senior was a stud for the Knights this season on both the gridiron and baseball diamond.
Atchley earned first team all-district and 3A honorable mention all-state as a linebacker for the Knights, leading the team in tackles.
Once baseball season rolled around, Atchley continued his dominance, hitting in the cleanup spot, blasting two home runs and leading the Knights in RBI’s on their way to a 25-8 season.
Others in consideration for this award were Doyline’s Tyreck Wilson, Glenbrook’s Parker Christy and Joseph Windham and Minden’s L’Jarius Sneed and Dekeltric Freelon.
Coach of the Year
Spencer Heard earns his spot at the throne after a 9-3 season. Heard guided the Tide to big wins over North DeSoto and Woodlawn, as well as a playoff victory over Tioga. If not for a costly turnover or two, the Tide could have been undefeated during the regular season. Look for Minden to be even better next year under Heard’s direction.
Game of the Year
Another tough one to pick, but I went with the Minden football’s 35-34 loss to Franklinton in round two of the Class 4A Playoffs.
The game was heartbreaking to put it mildly. After a disastrous pick six, the Tide drove the field in less than a minute to score, needing the extra point to tie. The extra point was blocked, ending the Tide’s season.
The emotional aftermath was devastating, a difficult pill to swallow, but at the heart of it all was a school and town that have arrived back on the scene as a Class 4A contender.
Honorable mentions go to Minden/North Webster (football), Minden/North DeSoto (football), Minden/North DeSoto (baseball) and Glenbrook/Claiborne (basketball, at Glenbrook)
Play of the Year
In the fourth quarter of Minden’s 41-34 loss to Benton, L’Jarius Sneed went up for a jump ball deep down the left sideline. Sneed hauled in the pass above two Benton defenders, juked left to avoid one tackler and then dragged two Benton defenders the final 15 yards into the endzone. It was the most impressive play I’ve witnessed in my time at the Press-Herald. Sneed is taking his talents to Louisiana Tech where he will play football next season.