We close the book on 2015 on Thursday at midnight.
And what a year it was, especially in the world of high school sports in Louisiana. It was an incredible run.
Here’s one man’s opinion of the top 15 high school sports stories from 2015.
1. Curtis joining the Catholic League: Football in New Orleans was already really good. When J.T. Curtis decided to compete in 5A and the Patriots were placed in the Catholic League, it got even better. The Patriots had little trouble competing and reached the Division I select semifinals. They had reached the championship game every year since 1996 before that streak was snapped.
2. St. Paul’s soccer team reiGns supreme: Sean Moser’s squad repeated as state champions, going 30-0-3 and outscoring opponents in the playoffs 122-9. The Wolves finished No. 1 in the nation, according to one publication.
3. Rummel’s loss in title game: Rummel looked invincible against in-state opponents this season. But the Raiders were stunned by Catholic High in the Division I select championship game when Parker Fontenot booted a 34-yard field as time expired.
4. Country Day’s volleyball reign ends: In arguably the most thrilling game/match of the year in any sport, the Country Day volleyball team fell 25-23, 35-33, 31-33, 27-25, 18-16 to Ascension Episcopal in the Division V semifinals. The marathon that lasted 2½ hours ended the Cajuns’ six-year title reign.
5. Bruce Almighty: Brother Martin junior running back Bruce Jordan-Swilling rushed 19 times for 344 yards and seven touchdowns in his team’s 68-21 road victory over St. Stanislaus (Mississippi). He only played the first half.
6. Keytaon Thompson saves the day: Landry-Walker struggled all game long but somehow found itself tied 35-35 with Salmen with 3.9 seconds left in the Class 4A state championship game. Lamar Thompson dribbled up court and heaved a desperation shot that missed, but Thompson rebounded and scored on a putback at the buzzer to give the Charging Buccaneers a title repeat.
7. Resilient Ehret, Karr reach Dome: John Ehret and Edna Karr got off to rough starts. Ehret lost its starting quarterback in the season opener. Karr lost its first three games under first-year coach Brice Brown. Neither school was rattled and both made it to the championship game in Class 5A and 4A.
8. Narcisse injured, then returns: Rated as the nation’s top dual-threat quarterback at the time, St. James QB Lowell Narcisse tore his ACL in the spring game and was expected to miss the entire season. He returned during the playoffs to help lead the Cinderella Wildcats to the Class 3A state championship game, where they lost to rival Lutcher.
9. Four in a row for Klein: Brother Martin wrestler Paul Klein capped one of the most dominant careers in LHSAA history by winning his fourth consecutive title. He also helped Brother Martin win its fourth straight crown.
10. Sportsmanship issues: Several incidents have raised concerns to LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine. Among the more recent ones was a fight at the end of a basketball game between Landry-Walker and McDonogh 35. There were also incidents during football game between Lake Area and Karr and between Amite and Bogalusa. Here’s hoping these fights don’t spill over into 2016.
11. Jennings rolls on: Gabrielle Jennings, the senior distance runner at First Baptist Christian, continued her running dominance. She added her 38th state title in varsity athletics, claiming the Class C cross country championship in November.
12. World Series trip: Jesuit-based Retif Oil reached the American Legion World Series championship before falling to Chapin-Newberry, South Carolina. Retif was going for its second title in four years.
13. Big Ben comes to town: The Alario Center was buzzing to start the year when high school senior Ben Simmons and Montverde Academy came to town from Florida to compete in the Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic. Simmons, now a freshman at LSU, finished with a season-best 39 points to lead his team to victory over Riverside Academy in the title game.
14. FIVE is enough for Karr: The Cougars had just five girls at the state meet, but it was enough to win the Cougars’ their first state title since 2003. Rikianne Patterson, Imani Mulmore, Taylor Harris and Dimonquie Shannon and Tasia Wilson got it done.
15. Delay of game ... almost: High school officials threatened to walk out and not officiate games. Pay was one of the issues that caused the dispute that fortunately was resolved a few weeks before the football season began.
Looking forward to seeing what 2016 has in store.
Happy New Year.