KETK – Let’s face it, sports almost didn’t happen for much of 2020.
Some athletes and teams at many levels around the country have yet to return to competition.
But East Texans managed to endure and overcome, and wrote some mighty special tales of triumph over tragedy.
No. 10 – The Tyler Legacy Lady Raiders won a girls basketball district title for the first time in 34 years.
Coached by Legacy alum Ross Barber, and spearheaded by TCU signee Aaliyah Morgan, the Lady Raiders went 28-7 on the season. That 1986 squad was also the program’s last team to reach the state tournament.
No. 9 – The sudden tragic death of Kobe Bryant.
He may not have been an East Texan, but his passing was felt throughout the Piney Woods in many ways.
Bryant and his daughter Gigi were killed along with seven others that included former University of Houston baseball player and coach John Altobelli when their helicopter crashed on January 26.
No. 8 – The Houston Astros sign stealing scandal.
While reports began to surface late in 2019, it was on January 13, 2020 when MLB’s investigation revealed findings that a camera system had been used to relay pitch types to Astros batters. That day, manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Lunhow were fired, and both suspended by MLB for all of 2020.
No. 7 – Between March 11 and March 14, the entire sports world nationwide came to a stand-still and stayed that way for months due to the impending spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The stoppage would also postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to the summer of 2021.
But East Texas high school and college athletes persevered and figured out ways to work out on their own.
No. 6 – As a result of the shutdown, the state boys basketball tournament was cut short, leaving three East Texas teams LaPoynor, Martin’s Mill, and Shelbyville with their seasons in limbo.
The UIL ultimately awarded all the teams that were still in contention at the time of the stoppage UIL state championships trophies. All three decided along with the other teams in their classifications that received trophies to call their 2020 teams co-state champions.
No. 5 – Whitehouse alum Patrick Mahomes certainly had a pretty good year. On July 6, the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback signed the largest contract ever in pro sports, worth a possible total of $503 million for a period of 12 years.
Mahomes also got engaged to his girlfriend Brittany Matthews on September 1. The couple is expecting a daughter.
No. 4 – On October 11, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a devastating injury that would end his 2020 campaign.
Prescott broke two bones in his right ankle in a gruesome way which required surgery later that night. However, he expects to make a full recovery.
But the Cowboys have struggled without him. Although at 6-9, they could still make the playoffs with at win Sunday at the Giants, and a Washington loss to Philadelphia.
No. 3 – The Carthage Bulldogs added to their dynasty which now contends as arguably the greatest ever in the entire State of Texas.
Carthage won its eighth state crown in the last 13 years to cap off another undefeated season (Carthage is currently on a 30-game winning streak). The Bulldogs won an all-East Texas 4A Division 2 final beating the Gilmer Buckeyes 70-14 on December 18 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
No. 2 – The Lindale Eagles captured the imagination of East Texas making a run to a state title game for the first time in school history.
The Eagles had never been past the second round of the playoffs.
But led by head coach Chris Cochran and Baylor signee running back Jordan Jenkins, Lindale went six rounds this year. They made a pair of incredible comebacks in the post-season to reach Jerry’s World.
The Eagles ultimately fell in the 4A Division 1 championship game to Argyle 49-21, also on December 18 in Arlington.
No . 1 – Mr. Patrick Mahomes has another spot in our top ten. The East Texan led the Kansas City Chiefs to their first Super Bowl title in 50 years.
Mahomes led KC to three consecutive come from behind victories in the playoffs, that included rallying from a 20-10 fourth quarter deficit in the Big Game.
Cementing himself as the new face of the NFL, Mahomes helped the Chiefs to a 31-20 triumph over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 54 in Miami on February 2.
He also became the youngest quarterback to be named Super Bowl MVP.
Watch the video to see our Top 10 East Texas sports stories of 2020.