You know how most of us declare fantastical New Year’s resolutions only to see them go up in flames by February?
Yeah, well, chalk that up as one more reason to be a fan of high school sports. Because while most of us are inhaling leftover Christmas ham in front of a mediocre bowl game or out cashing in on post-holiday sales of the century right about now, chances are there are dozens of prep athletes sweating in area gyms and getting a head-start on their hopes and dreams for 2013.
Whether it’s winning a state title, breaking a school record, turning in a new personal best or simply making the junior varsity squad, high school athletes set their sights and then pour their souls into reaching their goals each day.
The year 2012 proved another testament to that fact. From the triumphant to the heart-breaking to the inspiring, our top BoCoPreps.com-area prep stories of 2012 all illustrate folks who paid far more than lip service toward their aspirations.
1. Boulder boots title drought:
From 1977 to 2000, Boulder High School racked up 16 team state titles in sports ranging from football to volleyball to basketball to baseball to golf to softball. Then there were none — for 12 years anyway.
The Panthers boys soccer team halted that skid with a stirring run to the Class 5A state title in the fall. In a soccer-rich community that often produces some of the state’s top players, the Panthers proved top dogs, topping cross-town rival Fairview in the state semifinals before downing Smoky Hill 3-1 in the championship game to bring another gold trophy back to a once-elite athletic program.
2. Football fans get Chuckstrong:
What started as the feel- good story of a local boy reaching the heights of his profession when Fairview grad Chuck Pagano was named head coach of the Indianapolis Colts in January turned into so much more.
Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia in September, and his determination to beat the disease and get back to the sidelines sparked the “Chuckstrong” rallying cry from Indianapolis to Boulder and beyond. Pagano’s cancer is in now remission and he’s returned to work with the playoff-bound Colts.
3. Girls hoops takes
Colorado is well-known as a recruiting hotbed for girls basketball. So when two local squads reached Class 5A’s state title game in one of the state’s most competitive sports, it marked a banner day for area hoopsters.
Legacy, led by current University of Denver freshman Kailey Edwards, rallied past nearby Front Range League rival Monarch for a 58-51 win in the state championship game. After losing to the Coyotes twice during the regular season, the Lightning finally had their first crown in the sport.
4. Raptors reload,
Forget top stories of the year. The 2012 Silver Creek Raptors figured to be an afterthought following a 2011 Class 3A state runner-up run on the back of a loaded senior class.
All the Raptors did, though, was one-up themselves with a gritty group that had little varsity experience but plenty of determination. SCHS went 12-2 for the second year in a row and routed a juggernaut Rifle squad 32-15 in the state title game to entrench itself as the top 3A football power so far in this young decade.
5. Dynasties brought down:
No Colorado girls basketball team could lay claim to a run like Broomfield’s string of five straight titles. Legacy, meanwhile, was looking to join Erie as the only other Colorado softball team to win six crowns in a row.
In the end, six proved to be no lucky number for either Broomfield or Legacy. Both saw their incredible championship streaks halted — at least for now. Eventual state champion Air Academy unseated Broomfield in the 4A girls hoops quarterfinals, while Loveland played giant slayer against Legacy in the 5A softball semis.
6. Coyotes track down
Monarch’s football team was already celebrating to start the season, commemorating the 10th-anniversary season of the Coyotes’ first state title in 2002. But the Coyotes did more than just honor the past. They added their own legacy to the program’s brief-but-storied history.
Facing a talented Denver South squad that had the whole city of Denver on its side, Monarch topped the Rebels 17-14 for the 4A championship. The victory came 10 years and 1 day after MHS’ first crown.
7. Lyons roars to
Freshman phenom Paul Roberts burst onto the rich local distance running scenes with a Class 2A state cross country title that set the stage for a career that has the potential to be the best we’ve seen out of an area runner in a long time. But his feat was merely icing on the trophies for Lyons’ track and cross country programs.
The Lions swept the 2A boys and girls track and field team titles in the spring, with multiple individuals winning crowns. The boys cross country squad followed that up with a team championship in the fall, with three runners finishing in the top eight at state, while the girls were runners-up.
8. Trojans win 22 straight:
Longmont High has a championship history in the sport of volleyball, and the city as a whole has proven its prowess time and again in recent years, with LHS, Skyline and Silver Creek all making multiple state tournament runs.
But it’s been awhile since an area volleyball squad has made waves like the 2012 Trojans. They reeled off wins in their first 22 matches in a row before dropping the regular-season finale to 5A power Eaglecrest. LHS finished with a stellar 25-2 mark that included a perfect 14-0 run through the deep Northern League.
9. Lazaroff in class
If you’re not a sports fan or you’ve been hiding out in Ward, you might not have noticed that lacrosse is booming in Colorado in recent years. Players like former Centaurus standout Emma Lazaroff are one reason why the sport will only continue to grow.
As a senior last spring, Lazaroff — now a freshman at Duke — broke the national high school single-season record for goals scored with 143 as she led the Warriors to the state semifinals for the second year in a row.
10. Allman fells
Valarie Allman’s entire junior season seemed to be building toward the moment. With a Class 4A discus title already locked up, the Silver Creek standout stepped into the ring for her final toss of the state meet.
Then she gave the large crowd gathered exactly what it came to see. She uncorked a throw of 164 feet, shattering the 18-year-old all-classification state record by nearly 4 feet. Did we mention she’s got another prep season this spring?
Follow Josh on Twitter: @JoshLindenstein