A deserving group of talented area boys seniors broke through to carry their teams to state titles or win for themselves during the 2015-16 season.
Seniors led three basketball teams to Lake Charles for the Top 28 in March, highlighted by Best of Preps Team of the Year Bossier’s Class 4A title-winning backcourt of Larry Robinson III, Tyrese English and Travis Manning. Arcadia guards Dan Fields and Travious Fielding won their first 1A title, while North Caddo’s All-City Player of the Year Robert Williams shined with a triple-double in his team’s double-overtime semifinal loss to eventual champion Madison Prep.
Less than a month earlier, Parkway’s Nathan Pitts won his second straight wrestling title just down the road at CenturyLink Center, while fellow senior Garrett Strozier won for the first time. Airline junior Christian Walden bucked the trend by earning a Division I title.
Seniors again stole the spotlight in the spring, when Byrd baseball made an improbable run to the 5A state title game as an 11 seed. Seven of the nine players in the Yellow Jackets’ lineup actually graduated before a 2-1 win over Acadiana, and senior Andrew Suggs looked sharp on the mound before a rain delay ended his career too early in a 5-2 loss to No. 1 Barbe.
Even defending state champion and Byrd junior, Philip Barbaree, Jr., the world’s top junior golfer, couldn’t stop the run of success for area seniors. His teammate, LSU commit Carter Toms, beat Barbaree and the rest of the field by an astonishing 11 strokes to lead the Yellow Jackets to another Division I team title.
But the area’s first state title came in the fall, when Lakeside’s Eric Greene ran to a 2A cross country title a year after a runner-up finish. St. Mary’s senior Scott Maggio settled for third place in 1A, setting the stage for a gold medal in the 1600 meters this spring.
Haughton’s Antonio Woodfork made big strides in his final year to win the 5A high jump and 100 meter hurdles to complement a second-place finish in the 300 meter hurdles. Other state champion track seniors included North Webster’s Xavious Eason in the 100 meters and Red River’s Dahndre Washington in the triple jump.
Haynesville’s athleticism led to a runner-up finish on the football field and a pair of state relay titles on the track, in the 4×200 meters and the 4×100. Juniors Kavarea Applewhite of Huntington and Dezmond Bryant of Red River won the 400 meters in their respective classes while North Wester junior Wesley Franklin won the 300 meter hurdles.
Evangel doubles player Andrew Deutsch just missed a remarkable fourth consecutive state title in tennis, falling in the championship match with first-year partner, Trint Polke.