2017 in Review: 17 for ’17 – Top stories, moments, athletes in past year

By Messenger Staff | Published Saturday, December 30, 2017
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Year of the Bulls

YEAR OF THE BULLS – In its second season, the Bridgeport Bulls soccer team advanced to the 4A final. The Bulls fell in a shootout to Kilgore and finished the year as the state runner-up. Messenger photo by Joe Duty


In just their second season, the Bridgeport Bulls made a magical run to the state final.

The Bulls overcame a slow start in District 3-4A, winning five straight to eventually claim the league title.

Bridgeport then cruised through the first three rounds of the playoffs, beating Brownwood (5-1), Borger (7-3) and 3-4A rival Burkburnett (3-0).

At the Class 4A Region I tournament, Juan Amador scored a pair of goals in the first half and then played keeper in the second half of a 4-3 win over Dallas Life Oak Cliff.

With a state berth on the line, the Bulls took down 2015 state champion San Elizario in the region final. Standout defender Eric Aguilar saved the day with his sliding save on an open goal to protect the lead. Jesus Aguilar scored the game-winning goal to send Bridgeport to Georgetown.

Miguel Olmos and Amador scored goals in the state semifinal to beat Progreso 2-0.

In the final, Bridgeport battled back from a 2-0 deficit just 12 minutes into the game to tie it up. The Bulls kept Kilgore at bay for the remainder of regulation and the two overtime periods. After 100 minutes of action, the match was settled on penalty kicks. Kilgore’s Kaleb Jett made a pair of stops to secure the title for his team.

The 4A state runner-up finished 19-3-5.

“It’s amazing in the second year we’re here,” Olmos said. “This whole year, no matter what happened, we kept our heads up and kept moving forward. It’s an amazing year, and I can’t wait for next year. We’ll be back next year.”

History Making Season

HISTORY-MAKING SEASON – Boyd’s Shaylee Martin and Jacey Cate jump to block a shot in the state semifinal. Boyd made its first trip to the state volleyball tournament. Messenger photo by Joe Duty


Behind their motto of “iron sharpens iron,” the Boyd Lady Yellowjackets made school history with their first state tournament appearance.

Ranked in the top 10 most of the season, Boyd rolled through a tough non-district and 8-3A. The Lady Yellowjackets went 13-1 in district to win their third straight league title.

Boyd beat Tolar and Clyde in the first two rounds of the playoffs, but the true test came in the third round against the 2016 state runner-up Peaster. Boyd rallied from down 2-1 to force a fifth game. The Lady Yellowjackets won the fifth set 15-12 to advance to the region tournament. Boyd swept Alpine and Brock to earn the trip to Garland.

The Lady Yellowjackets were matched up with defending state champion Goliad in the semifinal. Boyd dropped the first two sets before rallying to win the third and fourth sets in dramatic fashion and force a tiebreaker.

Goliad took the match with a 15-11 win in the fifth set.

“That’s been the theme all year. That’s how these girls are – we don’t quit. That’s how we got here, and we know that,” said Boyd coach Dusty Crafton.

“We had to overcome some nerves. It was our first time being here and a lot of new things. Those first two sets, especially the first one, were uncharacteristic of the way we play. We pulled it together and were able to settle into our environment. But the fact we never quit doesn’t surprise me at all.”

Boyd went 38-8 with the program’s first trip to the state tournament.

“I knew from Aug. 1 this was going to be an amazing season. We just had to play our game the whole time. That’s all I could ask for,” said Boyd senior setter Macey McCune, who dished out 22 assists in her final match.


Led by dynamic guard Avery Anderson and a talented group of underclassmen, the Northwest Texans earned the school’s first trip to the state tournament in San Antonio.

The Texans won the 6-5A title and then dispatched of Sherman, Grapevine and Richland to reach the region tournament. The Texans beat El Paso Andress and El Paso Burges in tight games to secure a trip to the state tournament.

In the 5A semifinal, Fort Bend Marshall ended the first half on an 11-4 run to take a 36-28 halftime lead. Marshall pulled away in the second half for the 82-59 win, bringing a close to a 32-6 season for the Texans.

“We thought we had a good team and we did,” said Northwest coach Mike Hatch. “I don’t know if we had a good enough team to get down to the final four, but we had a good team. These guys just grew closer and closer together, and it’s tough for the season to end for them. They enjoy practicing everyday, and they love to play. It was a neat group to see grow into what they’ve become.”

Adding to Trophy Case

ADDING TO TROPHY CASE – The Decatur Eagles celebrate a series win. The Eagles made a surprising run to the 4A Region II final. Messenger photo by Joe Duty


Behind dynamic starting pitching and timely hitting, the Decatur Eagles made a surprising run to the Class 4A Region II final.

The Eagles split with top-ranked Argyle in the regular season but ended up as the 9-4A third playoff seed.

In the playoffs, Bryce Elder tossed back-to-back no-hitters as the Eagles won series against Dallas Pinkston and Melissa. Decatur then had to battle back from dropping the first game against 9-4A rival Sanger. The Eagles won a pair of games in a row, including the 8-3 victory in game three with a gem from Jaxon Terrell.

Elder shut out Gilmer 2-0 in the region semifinal to give the Eagles a matchup with Texarkana-Pleasant Grove for a spot in the state tournament.

Pleasant Grove swept the series, winning the second game 1-0 in eight innings.

Pushing to the End

PUSHING TO THE END – Bridgeport’s Manuel and Salvador Garcia run in the state final in Round Rock. The Bulls finished fifth in 4A. Messenger photo by Joe Duty


Five years ago, Bridgeport did not field a varsity squad in the district cross country meet. This year, behind a talented group of four seniors that ran throughout high school, the Bulls charged onto the state stage.

Bridgeport finished fourth in the Class 4A Region II race to earn a trip to Round Rock. Led by their quartet of seniors who guided Bridgeport to four regional appearances, the Bulls finished fifth in their first state trip.

Brothers Manuel and Salvador Garcia were within a few yards of each other heading into the final stretch. Salvador passed Manuel just before the finish line, taking 25th in 17:01. Manuel finished two spots back in 17:02.

Eric Aguilar and Rigo Alvarez crossed the finish line together in 60th and 61st place in 17:29. Senior Nathaniel Phillips was the fifth Bull to reach the finish line at 108th in 18:20 to give Bridgeport the top-five finish.

“It’s the perfect way to end being at state,” Phillips said.

Javier Huerta finished 111th in 18:22 and Jose Huerta 141st in 19:08.

“It’ll be a great story to tell later in life,” Aguilar said about the state trip.

Blue December

BLUE DECEMBER – The Decatur Eagles made their way into December, playing in the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 2013. Messenger photo by Joe Duty


After back-to-back losses to start District 4-4A Division I play against Argyle and Wichita Falls Hirschi, the Decatur Eagles appeared to be longshots to just make the playoffs.

The Eagles then hit their stride, closing district with wins over Gainesville, Burkburnett and Sanger behind a high-flying offense. Decatur averaged 66.3 points in their final three games of the regular season.

Decatur met longtime nemesis Abilene Wylie in the bi-district round. A.J. Martinez ran for 220 yards and three touchdowns as the Eagles won 48-34.

The Eagles followed the win with a 55-48 victory over Andrews to reach the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

Hirschi and running back Daimarqua Foster ended the Eagles’ season with a 58-28 loss.

“I’m really proud. We’re sitting there six weeks ago at 3-4 and a lot of people started to doubt. Some of their teammates doubted them,” said Decatur coach Mike Fuller. “But they really got better every week.

“We got to play a December football game. It’s something that’s not been done in a long time in Decatur. We had a chance to do what only a few teams have done, win two playoff games.”


In the summer of 1993, Bridgeport turned over a program that had not posted a winning record in 13 years or tasted the postseason since 1971 to a 32-year-old offensive coordinator from Flower Mound Marcus, Danny Henson. The Bulls won a then program-record 11 games that season and began a winning tradition under Henson that included six district championships, 17 playoff appearances and 151 wins over 24 seasons.

In January, Henson announced he was stepping down as the school’s athletic director and football coach to retire, ending the county’s longest current head coaching tenure.

“I’ve heard the analogy, when you get into athletics, you get to ride that bus for a certain amount of time,” Henson said. “I’ve been blessed. I’ve gotten to ride that bus since I was in second grade until I was 56 years old. That’s a blessing most people don’t get to do. I hang on to that a lot more than anything negative that might have happened.

“Everyone has to get off that bus at one time. As a player or a coach, you don’t get to ride forever,” he said. “The page will turn, and there will be other guys on the sidelines wearing maroon trying to get to 152. That’s the way it should be.”

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