I wanted to use my first column of 2009 to pay tribute to 2008. Then I remembered — nothing happened.
Unless you count ...
Bayshore’s baseball team overcoming the forfeiture of all but one regular season win to clinch a district title on a close play at the plate; Manatee’s Alex Doran becoming the first Canes freshman to win a state wrestling title against Brandon’s Nick Hutchinson, who had defeated him twice before; another Hurricane, Andrew Fulk, capping his stellar prep athletic career by winning a state title at 189 pounds; Manatee’s wrestling team putting a Hurricane-sized scare into that behemoth known as Brandon; Southeast’s girls basketball team raising another district championship trophy; Palmetto’s Reggie Baity winning a game at the buzzer; Braden River’s boys basketball team setting a program record for wins with more than a month of season left; Saint Stephen’s boys soccer team finally swatting the gnat known as Tampa Prep; Lindsay Thompson leading Lakewood Ranch’s girls soccer team to one last district title before taking her game to Florida; Bradenton Christian’s boys basketball and volleyball teams making another trek to Lakeland; BCS’ baseball team joining the fun and reaching the regional finals; Lakewood Ranch’s Jackson Moore and Cooper Maxwell, thrown together just before the district tournament, winning the Class 3A boys state tennis doubles title; Braden River’s football team making the most of its first postseason appearance; another pantheon-worthy Southeast-Manatee football game; the football Seminoles winning their first playoff game since 2004; the football Palmetto Tigers winning their first district since 2000; Braden River’s softball team winning the program’s first title — just before the baseball team followed suit; BCS and Palmetto playing the best boys basketball game I’ve seen since I’ve been in Manatee County; a pair of well-run holiday hoops tournaments at Southeast and BCS; Jim Van Til reaching 400 wins; Palmetto and Saint Stephen’s girls soccer teams making history; Southeast, Saint Stephen’s and Palmetto’s boys teams playing in regional finals on the same night; Southeast and Manatee tangling for another boys district soccer title; Palmetto’s Kedric Johnson and Southeast’s Jonathan Dowling making quarterbacks twitch in their sleep; the cash-strapped community banding together to help former Manatee baseball player Nick Sabella battle benign brain tumors; Saint Stephen’s softball team throwing the ultimate curveball — winning a district title during a supposed rebuilding year; Manatee’s Megan Dzikas becoming the program’s all-time leading scorer before making a seamless transition to Florida Southern; Bayshore’s girls basketball seniors beating Manatee for the first time; Southeast’s football team winning a district title by enduring another three-way tiebreaker; Manatee’s boys tennis team needing two sites and nearly six hours to beat Naples Barron Collier.
Like I said — absolutely nothing happened. Wouldn’t mind some excitement in 2009. How about you?