Sports Editor

Since 1986, Chris Dugan has been covering local sports for the Observer-Reporter, and named sports editor in 2006. Before joining the O-R, he was sports editor at the Democrat-Messenger, and a former member of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Another school year has passed.

We all talk about time and would like to change it, but none of us can stop it from passing.

When time makes its way each spring to the end of another school year, we have the tendency to look back at the teams and high school athletes who kept us on the edge of our seats and provided memorable moments.

Depending on your outlook, it was either a very good or very disappointing year.

There was so much to be happy about as the 2018-19 high school sports year was one that continued a pattern of championships, both team and individual, which has become commonplace in this corner of Pennsylvania,. Yet there were profound moments of disappointment and frustration.

Baseball and softball fans weren’t too happy because for the first time in what seems like decades, no local team advanced to the state finals. Girls basketball, however, was never better, and when we look back at that sport, one word comes to mind.

Perfection.

Not one, but two teams, those at Chartiers Valley and Peters Township, won WPIAL and PIAA championships with undefeated records. It’s difficult enough to go undefeated for one month, but to go four months without a bad night is remarkable. To make Peters Township’s season even sweeter, the Indians became the first team from Washington County to win a state championship in girls basketball.

But 2018-19 was a strange year. We found ourselves looking back fondly, but sadly, at a softball team from Greene County that fell just short of its fourth consecutive trip to the PIAA finals and a possible third straight state title. We were shocked and puzzled by the WPIAL’s ruling that would have prevented a top hurdler and pole vaulter from competing at the district championships in his best event, all because of a clerical error that was discovered days before the meet. Fortunately, the PIAA had more common sense in this matter and overturned the WPIAL’s ruling, which allowed Waynesburg’s Daniel Layton to compete in the 110-meter high hurdles. He went on to win championships in the event at the WPIAL and state meets.

We said goodbye to several coaching legends who touched the lives in positive ways of so many young people that their accomplishments go far beyond wins on the athletic field. It is hard to imagine Upper St. Clair football without Jim Render on the sideline, or Canon-McMillan basketball without Rick Bell straining to be heard from the Big Macs’ bench or Joe Maize not in the dugout at Peterswood Park pondering a pitching change or a surprise bunt during a Peters Township baseball game.

With this year’s “Best of Sports” edition, the staffs at the Observer-Reporter and The Almanac have tried to answer some tough questions about the recently completed high school sports seasons. Who was the most valuable player in a particular sport? Who were the best players? Who were the best teams in the area?

Choosing from the 22 schools in the O-R’s coverage area, along with The Almanac’s area, which includes the sports-crazed communities in the South Hills, we put together what we believe is the best of the best. As was the case last year, we made any athletes who live in Washington or Greene counties and attend Bishop Canevin or Seton LaSalle eligible to be an MVP or honoree.

As you might expect, such an undertaking was not easily accomplished. It caused a few spirited debates. The difficulty of picking only a few athletes is difficult enough. Mix in having to weigh the accomplishments of athletes over six classifications makes it a chore that seems impossible.

This “Best of Sports” publication would not have been possible without the the cooperation of area athletic directors and coaches. They have been helpful as O-R sports staffers Joe Tuscano and Luke Campbell, along with correspondents John Sacco, Bill Hughes, Kevin Jacobsen, Matt Shetler, Dave Whipkey and Tyler Godwin, as well as Almanac sports editor Eleanor Bailey, covered their teams and requested opinions and statistical information.

The format for “Best of Sports” is the same as last year. One MVP in each sport. Honorees were to be limited to the number of players a team has in its lineup for its particular sport. In individual sports, where an athlete finished in the postseason was used to determine the honorees. In team sports, the list of honorees was difficult to trim, so some received extra honorees. Football, for example, was bumped from 11 to 22. Those sports in which only a few local schools field teams were limited to only an MVP.

Let us know how we did on our selections.

Observer-Reporter sports editor Chris Dugan can be reached at dugan@observer-reporter.com.

Observer-Reporter sports editor Chris Dugan can be reached at dugan@observer-reporter.com.

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