by JASON GORDON
Rebels make playoffs in every team sport in exciting 2012 campaign.
Hays High School continued to build on the success head football coach and athletic coordinator Blake Feldt brought to the school the minute he walked through the door.
The Rebels made the playoffs in every team sport in 2012 and had some excellent individual achievements in the athletic arena as well.
Here are the top sports stories in 2012 at Hays High. Next week, we’ll review the top sports stories at Lehman High School.
1. Hays High football team wins consecutive football titles for first time in school history
Sophomore Emory Cuzze made a sack and fumble recovery in Hays’ regular-season finale that will be talked about as long as Hays Rebel football is played.
With Hays’ district-title hopes hanging in the balance, Cuzze pummeled Alamo Heights quarterback Kalen Brockwell to the ground with 90 seconds remaining. The hit caused a fumble, and Cuzze gobbled it up too for good measure, and Hays beat the Mules on Heights’ home turf 24-21 in early November.
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world, you have no idea,” Cuzze said of his game-winning play. “We knew we had no choice. We had to hold them.”
The victory gave the Rebels a share of the District 27-4A title with Kerrville Tivy and Alamo Heights.
It marked the first time Hays has won consecutive district football titles in the 46-year history of the school.
Heights rallied from 21-0 down at halftime and had a chance to tie the game at 24 with 2:13 remaining, but Matt Kelley’s 30-yard field goal attempt sailed a few feet left of the goal post.
“Some people say there isn’t any such thing as luck, but we got lucky there,” said Hays lineman William Trevillion, who will play college ball at Texas State University. “I’m not going to lie, I’m glad he missed it – we’re district champs now.”
Hays failed to get a first down on offense after Kelley’s miss, so the stitching wasn’t officially sewn on Hays’ district-championship patches until Cuzze recovered the Brockwell fumble and the Rebs could run out the clock.
“We talked all week about becoming the first team in school history to win back-to-back district titles,” Hays head coach Blake Feldt said. “We’ve had a lot of great teams over the years here, but to be the first ones to do something like this is special.”
Hays went on to roll to an easy win over San Antonio Highlands in the bi-district playoff round before falling to state-ranked Leander in the area round.
Quarterback Caleb Kimbro, who has verbally committed to the University of New Mexico, finished his stellar career with more than 7,100 combined passing and rushing yards and 81 total touchdowns.
2. Lindsey McCurdy wins Class 4A state golf tournament
When Hays High junior Lindsey McCurdy sank a 40-foot birdie putt on hole No. 3 in the first round of the UIL State Class 4A Golf Tournament at Jimmy Clay Golf Course in Austin, she thought it might be a pretty good sign of things to come.
It turned out she was right.
McCurdy finished her final round early on May 1 and held off a late afternoon charge from Northwest Byron Nelson High School’s Maty Monzingo to win the UIL State Class 4A Golf title.
After shooting a first-round 3-under 69, McCurdy found birdies harder to come by the next day, and carded a 1-over 73 to finish the tournament with a two-day total of 2-under 142.
That opened the door for Monzingo, who rallied with six birdies on Tuesday and actually led McCurdy by two shots with two holes to play. But Monzingo made bogey on the 352-yard par-4 No. 8. She then pushed her tee shot past the out of bounds fence on No. 9, as her ball landed in the driving range to the right of the fairway on her final hole of the day.
It turned out to be one of the most expensive driving range golf balls in recent memory.
Monzingo still gave herself a chance to force a playoff for the state title with McCurdy, but she missed an 8-foot putt for bogey on the par-4 to finish the day with a score of 2-under 70, and a two-day total of 1-under 143.
McCurdy, who signed with Southern Methodist University, became Hays’ first state champion in any sport other than track and field since the school opened in 1968.
“It feels great to represent my school,” McCurdy said. “To be able to say I’m one of just a few that have done something is a very cool experience.”
Only Chuck Ables (high jump, 1978), Whitney Dill (1,600-meter run, 1999), Helen Breyfogle (high jump, 2000), Britni Lawrence (pole vault, 2002 and 2003), and Jessica Doyle (pole vault, 2007 and 2008) have ever won state titles in Hays High School history before McCurdy claimed another gold medal for the Rebels.
3. Hays High softball makes regional quarterfinals
The Hays softball team surprised just about everyone but itself during a historic playoff run in May.
The Lady Rebels, who upset a San Antonio-Harlandale team with a 23-2 record in the first round of the playoffs, then knocked off regional power Dripping Springs, a State semifinalist in 2011, with a sweep in their best-of-three area-round series.
The Lady Rebs beat Dripping Springs 5-4 in game one and came back to beat the Lady Tigers 1-0 the next day to complete the sweep.
Hays advanced to play district rival Canyon High in the regional quarterfinals, where the Lady Rebs ultimately saw their season come to an end with a game-three loss to the Cougarettes in mid-May.
Still, not bad for a Hays team that entered the playoffs with an overall losing record.
“Even in some of the district games we lost against Smithson Valley, Canyon and Lockhart, I could see the hurt in our players’ eyes,” Hays head coach Aaron Fuller said. “Even in defeat we were learning things – learning how to get better and win those games in the future. That’s what helped us in the playoffs. When we stepped on the field we expected to win.”
Defending Class 4A Region IV champ Dripping Springs came into the area-round series versus Hays with a 23-6 record.
In game one, Hays finally got to Dripping Springs starter Brandi Needham, one of the best pitchers in the area, in the top of the fourth inning. Hannah Ramsey, who recently signed with Georgetown University, singled and stole second. Brayden Pinckard’s RBI single knotted the game 1-1.
The Lady Rebels exploded for four runs off Needham in the top of the fifth.
Maddy Shannon’s two-RBI single scored Gabi Albarez and Julia Montoya. Kinna Kinsey’s fielder’s choice grounder plated Sarah Leal, and Ramsey’s single to left scored Shannon.
Sophomore sensation Leal shut the door on Dripping Springs in the seventh inning, retiring the Tigers in order. She finished with nine strikeouts.
Leal shut out Dripping Springs the next day, and Hays scored its lone run in the bottom of the second inning to seal the win.
With two outs in the bottom of the second, Gabi Albarez drove in Haleigh Madden with a single to center for the only run of the game.
It looked like Dripping Springs was going to tie the score in the top of the third inning, but Hannah Ramsey came up with the defensive play of the game from centerfield. She threw out Tigers’ runner Caitlyn Poehl, who was trying to score from second base after a single by Janice Burke. Ramsey’s rocket throw to Hays catcher Brittany Pape just nailed Poehl at the plate.
“Sarah pitched unbelievable,” Fuller said. “And the defense played outstanding behind her. We made great defensive play after great defensive play. That was the difference in the game. The play Hannah made was unbelievable.”
Against Canyon in the regional quarterfinals, Hays dropped game one 8-3 before rebounding to take game two 5-3. Canyon dropped the hammer, however, in game three with a 17-3 win.
Canyon and Smithson Valley, two teams from Hays’ District 27-4A, would advance to play each other in the regional finals. Smithson Valley advanced to state with an extra-inning win. Smithson Valley High School went on to win the state championship.
“We have a lot of talent coming back next year and I expect our team to be just as good or even better than we were this season,” Fuller said.
4. Hays boys basketball team wins first playoff game since 1980
The last time the Hays boys basketball team won a playoff game, the fathers of two current Rebel players were on the squad.
That all changed in February, as Hays overcame a very sluggish start to pull away from Kerrville Tivy for a 47-33 win in the bi-district round of the playoffs at South San High.
“You could hear it in the way the crowd just kept cheering after the game,” said senior Trey Johnson, whose dad Buddy was on Hays’ 1980 team. “They were really pulling for us.”
Tivy came out of the gate running an offense that more resembled a three-legged turtle race, pulling the ball out for minutes at a time to try and make Hays come out of its zone defense.
The tactic worked for a bit, as the Antlers led 3-2 after one quarter of play and 21-13 at halftime.
Hays used a man-to-man trap after the break that befuddled Tivy.
The Rebs went on a 17-2 run from midway through the third quarter to midway through the fourth to take command of the game.
Jaren Rodriguez started the surge with a 3-pointer from the right baseline and Johnson followed with a driving layup. A Steven Jass steal and pass to Jacob Rodriguez for a 3-pointer at the top of the key gave Hays a 31-29 lead heading to the final quarter.
Hayden Cagle’s steal and layup, and Jaren Rodriguez’s fade-away jumper that bounced up and in increased the margin to 37-30, and Tivy never threatened again.
“We want to use this as a building block,” said Hays guard Caleb Kimbro, whose father John was also on the 1980 team. “We want this to be the start of a winning tradition for boys basketball around here.”
Despite a battle that saw Hays lead for much of the game, the Rebels lost in the area round against Lake Travis to see their season come to an end.
5. Hays volleyball advances to regional quarters
After an easy win over San Antonio Lanier in the bi-district volleyball playoffs, the Lady Rebels faced much tougher competition in the area round but still prevailed over Vandegrift in a 25-17, 25-17, 25-21 sweep in early November.
Hannah Ramsey and Sydney Paradeaux had 13 kills apiece to lead Hays to a sweep.
Hays started out strong and only trailed Vandegrift, which was coming off its first-ever playoff win, early on in the second and third sets.
“It was one of our best efforts of the year and that’s what you need in the playoffs,” Hays head coach Erica Walther said. “We played solid defense, we had a high kill percentage and we served well.”
The Lady Rebels set the tone with a 7-0 run early in the first set as Paradeaux hammered home three straight kills to give Hays an 8-1 lead.
Two consecutive Natalie Valdez aces and a Dezaray Garner kill that landed just inbounds sparked the Lady Rebels in the second set, and Ramsey’s kill on match point in set three sent Hays to the regional quarterfinals against Cedar Park.
The Lady Rebs would go on to fall in the next round to Cedar Park, who has now knocked Hays out of the playoffs two straight years.
6. Doug Ragsdale wins his 400th baseball game and makes one last run to district playoffs before retiring
Before the 2012 baseball season, longtime Hays head baseball coach Doug Ragsdale announced this would be his 18th and final year at the helm of the program he had led to nine district titles since taking over in 1995. Hays lost all chance of another district title run after an 0-3 start in 27-4A, but Ragsdale and the Rebs didn’t lose faith in each other. Hays rallied to win six out of seven games during one stretch and made the playoffs for the 16th time in Ragsdale’s 18 seasons.
Along the way, Ragsdale picked up his 400th career win with a dramatic Hays win at Alamo Heights.
The Rebs were trailing the Mules 4-3 with two outs and no one on base in the top of the seventh inning and looked to be headed toward defeat.
That’s before Aaron Martinets and Trevor Ragsdale hit consecutive triples to tie the game.
Hays would go on to win with a big rally in the top of the eighth. Adrian Acosta struck out two Heights batters in the bottom of the eighth to shut the barn door on the Mules and earn the victory on the mound.
“Picking up my 400th win means I’ve been coaching a long time. It is really a tribute to a lot of kids playing hard through a lot of years,” Ragsdale said.
Hays went on to lose in the bi-district round of the playoffs to powerful Boerne Champion, which was a regional finalist this season.
7. Hays boys soccer team is area finalist and district champs for 2nd straight year
The Hays High boys soccer team clinched its second straight district title with a 1-0 win at Cedar Creek in March thanks to a Christian Varela first-half goal.
Last year, Hays had clinched the district title before spring break and had a stellar 21-1-1 record in the regular season. This year, the Rebels faced a few more ups and downs during their regular-season journey but the end result was the same.
“It was pretty wild heading into our last game knowing if we won or tied we were district champs and if we lost we were probably going to finish fourth,” Hays head coach Jason Burnett said after the win. “We definitely faced some adversity with a few losses this year but I think that made us stronger. We found out what our team was made of. They are a tough and determined group.”
The Rebels went on to beat Manor 3-2 in the bi-district playoffs before falling to Vista Ridge in the area round for the second straight season.
8. Four track and field team members qualify for the UIL State Meet
Four members of the Hays High School track and field team qualified for the Class 4A State Track and Field Meet at Myers Stadium in Austin in May.
Although none finished higher than fifth against ultra-tough competition at the state level, it was still quite an accomplishment.
Hays’ Meredith Driskell made her second straight trip to state after winning the pole vault competition with a leap of 12-feet, 3-inches at the Class 4A Region IV Meet at Alamo Stadium. Also at regionals, Taylor Hough finished second in the triple jump (43-feet, 10.25-inches), Martin Horne finished second in the 110-meter hurdles (15.6 seconds) and Mariana Sigala finished second in the 800-meter dash (two minutes, 18 seconds) to qualify for state for the Rebels. Sigala also qualified for the UIL Class 4A State Cross Country Meet in November and finished 36th.
“It was amazing to have so many of our athletes qualify for state coming out of a very competitive region,” said Hays track coach Mitch Phillips. “Every single one of our athletes at the regional meet that made it to state battled to get there. It’s great to see Meredith Driskell, Mariana Sigala, and Taylor Hough qualify as seniors and we know junior Martin Horne has an excellent chance to get back to state next year.”
Hough qualified for both regionals and state on his sixth and final triple jump attempt.
“The experience at state was more than amazing,” Hough said. “I had a great time and enjoyed every second of it. Seeing all my hard work pay off was awesome.”
9. Hays tennis team enjoys one of its best seasons in school history
The Hays High tennis team ran into some good competition at the Regional Tennis Tournament held in San Antonio in October.
Top teams in the state such as Lake Travis, Alamo Heights and Boerne Champion were in the draw.
After losing to 2010 State runner-up Boerne Champion, the Rebs rebounded by winning the next two matches against San Antonio Jefferson (10-0) and Austin LBJ (10-6).
In the consolation finals, the Rebels ran into a well-rounded Gregory-Portland team, and fell by a score of 10-3 in its final match of the team tennis season.
“Our record of 2-2 in the regional tournament was a great result for us,” Hays head tennis coach Debbie Cook said. “We knew the competition would be tough, but we gave everyone we played a fight.”
Cook said her team would remember its trip to regionals for a long time to come.
Hays team tennis players were: Caitlin Camp, Haley Butler, Katelyn Allred, Brooke Fulwiler, Grace Ortiz, Abby Knedlik, Jarett Stewart, Josh Bieter, Sarah Farrell, Ricky Hearn, Jackson Johnson, Raymond Hayes, Sam Simoneau and Zack Curry.
“This is something they can remember for the rest of their lives,” Cook said.
10. Hays sophomore Alex Schaubhut and junior Justin Davis qualify for state powerlifting meet
Alex Schaubhut had her coach convinced she was at least a year away from having a chance to qualify for the state powerlifting meet in March.
Schaubhut was thrilled, however, when she learned she qualified in the 123-weight class with a 655-pound three-lift total.
“It was a mixture of feeling relief, accomplishment and excitement,” said Schaubhut, who went on to finish 11th at State in March. “I couldn’t stop smiling.”
Hays High’s Justin Davis, who finished 13th at State in the 114-pound weight class with a three-lift total of 810 pounds, said he expects more of his Hays teammates to be there next season.
“State was a great experience,” Davis said. “I can’t wait to go again next year, but this time with more of my teammates.”
Hays head coach Stuart Foreman was way ahead of Davis’ assessment that the Hays powerlifters will be back.
“I’ve already booked rooms at State for next year,” Foreman said.