Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
Jaw-dropping victories. Improbable upsets. Heartbreaking losses. Historic individual performances.
2019 had it all and then some.
Here at Southern Ohio Sports Authority, we’re counting down the top twenty moments — in four segments — from the year that was, whittled down from an original list of hundreds.
With numbers 15-11, we take a look at a penalty kick thriller, an individual performance that will be entered into the OHSAA’s record books, an All-Ohio finish as a bookend to a stellar career, two seasons that will be remembered for years to come, and an abundance of success on the volleyball court.
15. Wheelersburg’s girls top Athens in penalty kick fashion
STORY: Wheelersburg earns dramatic shootout win over Athens to advance
With the weight of the world and every eye in the stands fixated on Annie Coriell, Wheelersburg’s freshman striker didn’t feel a single bit of pressure on Oct. 15. But she did feel her teammates swarming around her in celebration. After the Pirates and Athens played to a scoreless tie for the first 110 minutes of a Division II sectional semifinal, Coriell sent her team home a 4-3 winner with a game-winning penalty kick. Coriell’s PK came after successful tries from Jordan Jennings, Ellie Kallner and Alaina Keeney … and a successful save from Pirates goalkeeper and All-Ohioan Morgan Bivens. It was Wheelersburg’s 14th and final win of the season, and one that Coriell will remember for the rest of her career.
14. Northwest’s Brayden Campbell runs into record books with nine touchdowns
Not one, not two, not three … you get the point. On Oct. 18, Northwest’s Brayden Campbell ate his Wheaties, or something like that. In a 67-32 win over Green, Campbell rushed for nine (!!) touchdowns. That went alongside 360 rushing yards on 19 carries, an average of 18.9 per tote. It was the first time a player has scored nine touchdowns in a game since Sept. 2, 2016 and just the fourth time it happened in state history, according to the OHSAA. The sophomore helped the Mohawks finish 6-4 — the team’s best finish since 2015 — while rushing for 1,398 yards and 23 touchdowns.
13. Unioto’s Sylvia Gray puts exclamation point on storied tennis career
The best tennis career in our area’s history came to a close this past fall. Yes, I said it. With a win at the state tournament in Cincinnati, Unioto’s Sylvia Gray solidified an All-Ohio finish, putting a cap on a one-of-a-kind four-year run. Playing against Indian Hill’s Bella Kirby, Gray gritted out a 7-6 win in the first set. In the second, the senior succumbed to cramps and was forced to take a medical timeout. Out of the break, after she could barely hold her racquet because of the pain, Gray bucked up and put Kirby away with a 6-1 win to advance. Gray eventually lost the next match but not before becoming a two-time All-Ohioan, making her fourth straight appearance at the state tournament, and winning a fourth consecutive district championship.
12. SE’s Ruby, Waverly’s Shoemaker finish with All-Ohio football honors after historic seasons
Put simply, there was nobody individually better than Southeastern’s Lane Ruby or Waverly’s Payton Shoemaker this past fall. Both players provided fans with plenty of memorable moments, both finished with first-team All-Ohio honors and both ran like their hair was on fire. Ruby earned Division VI Offensive Player of the Year honors after leading his Panthers to an 11-1 finish and a third straight playoff appearance. He totaled 2,310 yards on the ground, 734 yards through the air and 41 total touchdowns. Meanwhile, Shoemaker was also making opposing defenses look silly. The senior led the Tigers to a 9-3 finish and a fourth straight postseason berth while rushing for school records of 2,328 yards and 32 touchdowns. Both were nothing short of magnificent to end their high school football careers.
11. Eight local teams earn right to compete in district volleyball finals
If you didn’t know how good our area’s volleyball scene was before this past fall, you certainly do now. Eight local teams — five from the Scioto Valley Conference and three from the Southern Ohio Conference — competed in at least a district title. Five of those teams won district championships in Adena, Huntington, Wheelersburg, Notre Dame and South Webster. The Warriors beat conference foe Zane Trace to claim theirs, the Huntsmen topped SVC counterpart Westfall, the Pirates beat Southeastern, the Titans swept Southern and the Jeeps took Waterford in four sets. What an exciting two-week period that was. Some areas aren’t lucky enough to have any teams reach a district final … we had eight.
NOTE: SOSA will release numbers 10-6 on Friday and 5-1 on Saturday.