Getting through any endeavor during a global pandemic is noteworthy. Staying healthy and enduring the protocols and challenges involved with combating COVID-19 while participating in high school sports was an achievement not to be taken for granted.
Through it all, 2021 brought historic wins, record-breaking performances, controversial moments, celebrity coaches and unforgettable players and teams. Read on for our look at the top 21 high school sports stories of 2021.
21. Gary McKnight wins 1,200th game Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)
boys basketball coach Gary McKnight won his 1,200th game, becoming the fourth ever to do so and first in California.
19. Billy Ball
Billy Jack Bowen of Silo (Okla.)
became the nation's all-time winningest baseball coach April 19 with win No. 2,123, surpassing his uncle Murl Bowen. 18. Bryce BallMater Dei (Santa Ana)
football made news for several reasons in 2021, most notably on the college front when its former quarterback and Alabama sophomore Bryce Young
won the Heisman trophy. He became the third former Monarch to win the award, breaking a tie with Wilson (Dallas) for most Heismans won by one school. Young earned the trophy just hours before Mater Dei won another CIF State Open Division title.
17. Barbe Ball
The baseball team at Barbe (Lake Charles, La.)
finished No. 1 in the MaxPreps Top 25 to claim its second national crown after winning its 11th state title. The Buccaneers recorded four shutouts in seven playoff games.
15. Phillip Rivers commits to the preps
Shortly after the future Hall of Fame quarterback announced his retirement from the NFL, Rivers was named the head coach at St. Michael Catholic (Fairhope, Ala.)
14. Father beats son for Texas crown
Legendary Texas football coach Todd Dodge led Westlake (Austin, Texas)
to a 52-34 win over Southlake Carroll, coached by his son Riley, for the 2020 6A Division I title that was played on Jan. 16 due to push back from COVID-19. Dad and the Chaparrals would make much more news in 2021.
J.T. Curtis became just the second high school football coach to reach 600 wins leading John Curtis Christian (River Ridge, La.)
to a 37-16 win over Archbishop Shaw (Marrero, La.). 12. Racist tortilla throwing incident costs SoCal team regional title
San Diego Section champion Coronado was stripped of its first regional title for what was deemed racist behavior following a title win over Orange Glen. 11. No. 1 Montverde Academy wins fifth GEICO Nationals title
A perfect third quarter — 12-for-12 from the field and 12 assists — lifted the Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)
boys basketball team to a 62-52 win over Sunrise Christian Academy and their fifth GEICO crown since 2013. 10. Marymount pulls off one of greatest volleyball seasons ever
Behind MaxPreps National Player of the Year Elia Rubin
, the Marymount (Los Angeles)
girls volleyball team finished 35-0, winning three major tournament titles and losing just eight sets all season.
9. Hamilton's miraculous football finish to beat Bishop Gorman
In a nationally-televised game on ESPNU, West Virginia-bound quarterback Nicco Marchiol
threw two TD passes and his Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.)
teammates recovered two onside kicks in the final minute for a stunning 25-24 win over the nationally-ranked Las Vegas power Bishop Gorman. 8. The Rush Propst saga continues on Netflix
MTV's "Two-A-Days" of 2006-07 rewrote itself with the latest Rush Propst saga entitled "Titletown High" which premiered in August on Netflix. The highly successful, controversial football coach was fired at Valdosta (Ga.) in April. 7. Inspiring amputees can not be slowed6. National POY Cade Klubnik leads Westlake to third straight Texas title
In head coach Todd Dodge's last game, Cade Klubnik
threw for 279 yards and four touchdowns, three to Jaden Greathouse
, in the 40th straight win for No. 2 Westlake (Austin)
, 40-21 over Guyer in the 6A-2 title game. Dodge was the 2020 MaxPreps National Coach of the Year
wasn't an event or accomplishment. It was simply a date: March 11, the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the pandemic, the day the NBA shut down. The next
day, prep sports followed suit.
4. Quinn Ewers leaves Southlake Carroll early, enrolls at Ohio State
Just before the regular season, the nation's top 2022 football prospect Quinn Ewers
left Southlake Carroll (Southlake, Texas)
to enroll at Ohio State in an effort to take advantage of name, image and likeness opportunities. Ewers eventually transferred to Texas and Carroll went 14-1, losing in the Class 6A-1 semifinals.3. Preps to pros
The NBA's G League and Overtime Elite opened pathways for teenage basketball prospects to turn professional and many jumped at the offer. That included Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland, Calif.)
junior Jalen Lewis
, who at 16 became the youngest American professional after signing with Overtime Elite.
Legendary Mater Dei (Santa Ana)
football coach Bruce Rollinson was carried off the field in perhaps his final game, a 44-7 CIF Open Division title win over Serra to secure a perfect season and his fifth national crown. Time will tell if the finale was triumphant or disgraced. 1. The absurdity of Bishop Sycamore
For more than a week, national media flooded columns and airwaves with reports of how a rogue Ohio football program scammed its way into a nationally-televised game with IMG Academy.