Best of Sports 2018

Who was the best high school athlete in the local area this year?

Which team had the best season?

Who were the top basketball players? And soccer players?

These questions, and many like them, have been asked annually in the newsroom of the Observer-Reporter and at its sister publication, The Almanac. They have sparked many loud and passionate debates.

With this “Best of Sports” edition, the sports staffs at the O-R and The Almanac have tried to answer those questions. We have put together a comprehensive list of the top athletes, Most Valuable Players and Teams of the Year for the recently completed high school sports season.

Choosing from the 22 schools in the O-R’s coverage area, along with those in The Almanac’s coverage area, which includes the South Hills, we put together the best of the best. We also made any athlete who lives in Washington or Greene counties and attends Seton-La Salle or Bishop Canevin eligible to be an MVP or honoree.

This corner of Pennsylvania has a rich history of being home to some of the top high school athletes in the state, and it’s time that the best of the best are recognized.

The “Best of Sports” aims to highlight the outstanding achievements of local athletes in their sport of participation.

Such an undertaking was not easy. And it would not be possible without the cooperation of the area athletic directors and coaches. They have been cordial and helpful as O-R sports staffers Joe Tuscano, Luke Campbell, Jacob Meyer and this reporter, correspondent Bill Hughes and Almanac sports editor Eleanor Bailey covered their teams, asked questions and requested statistical information.

The first step in developing the “Best of Sports” was to decide on a format. A Most Valuable Player was chosen for each sport based on that athlete’s accomplishments during the most recent season, along with a short list of honorees. Sports sanctioned by the PIAA are included, along with ice hockey and rifle. In those few sports that have just a few area schools fielding programs, only an MVP was selected.

The process for choosing each sport’s MVP and honorees began with determining how many athletes would be included in the sport. It was decided that the number of players a team has in its lineup for a game/event would be a good starting point. In other words, basketball would get five players but soccer would get 11.

In some sports, such as track and field, swimming and wrestling, determining the list of honorees was easy because the process was based on the athlete’s finish in the postseason. Other sports, however, were very difficult to trim to only a handful of deserving honorees. In some cases, a consensus could not be reached and an extra honoree or two were added.

The most difficult sport in which to compile of a list of honorees was football because there were so many talented players last season. Adding to the difficulty in all sports was weighing accomplishments by athletes in the smaller-enrollment classifications, such as Class A, against those competing at larger classifications. In sports such as track and field or swimming, where athletes are competing as much against the clock as their opponents, it’s easy to compare athletes from different classifications. However, in football or softball for example, that can’t easily be done. It led to plenty of spirited debates. We had to take into account how dominant a player was at his/her level of competition and how important they were to their team’s success. Injuries also had to be taken into account. Still, football proved to be the biggest trouble spot, so we opted to choose 15 players instead of 11.

A Team of the Year and two runners-up also were selected. Again, determining these three finalists was difficult because seven area teams won WPIAL championships and the spring sports season extended deep into June. Making it even more difficult to choose was this interesting fact: three teams did not win an outright section title or a WPIAL championship but went on to play in the state finals.

The first “Best of Sports” edition is now in your hands.

Enjoy.

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.

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.

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