YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Sports Team 27 covered another thrilling year in Valley Sports, and here’s a look back at what we consider the top 10 moments from 2017.
10- YSU Men’s Basketball – Back in March, Jerry Slocum stepped down after 12 seasons with the Penguins. A national search landed Jerrod Calhoun just three weeks later, a fiery Cleveland native with a new-up tempo philosophy. But with just two wins heading to the New Year, over Division 3 teams, YSU fans aren’t convinced just yet.
9 – Individual Valley Standouts – Warren JFK grad Chad Zallow made history at YSU, becoming the first runner in school history to place in the Top 10 at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. On the hardwood, McDonald freshman Zach Rasile lit up the nets, hitting a new state record 140 three pointers in a single season. And down in Columbiana, Jared Wilson capped off his high school career with back-to-back State Golf Titles in Columbus.
8 – New Castle’s Malik Hooker – The pride of the Red Hurricanes made his NFL dream reality back in April, as he was selected 15th overall by the Indianapolis Colts. It was an emotional night for the former Buckeye All American. Hooker led the NFL with 3 interceptions in his first 4 games, but a torn ACL and MCL ended his season in Week 7.
7 – WKBN’s Big 22 – For a 12th straight year we’ve honored the best high school football talent in the Valley. A total of 18 local teams qualified for the playoffs here in Ohio, and no player was more dominant than Girard’s Mark Waid. He passed for over 3,500 yards, scoring 56 touchdowns en route to our Big 22 Ohio Player of the Year. On the PA side, Sharon senior Ziyon Strickland led the way, setting District 10 records left and right and taking home our Big 22 Pennsylvania Player of the Year honors.
6 – Austintown’s Billy Price – Price may need a new trophy case after this fall. Billy was named Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year, a consensus All American, and also won the Rimington Trophy as the Nation’s best center. Price capped off his Buckeye career in style with a Cotton Bowl win Friday. Now, he’s widely regarded as a 1st round pick in April’s NFL draft.
5 – Wilmington’s Terry Verrelli – Legendary coach Verrelli officially retired after 40 years on the job with the Greyhounds. This year’s team was one of his best, with 14 wins and a State Championship appearance. Verrelli steps down with 314 career wins, becoming just the 15th coach in Pennsylvania history to reach the 300 win plateau.
4 – YSU Football – Number 4 takes us back to early January, as the YSU football team looked to build on their four National Championships. Unfortunately, the Penguins magical postseason came to an end against James Madison. The Dukes rushed out to an early lead and won the game, 28-14. Still, the Penguins won 12 games and claimed their third national runner-up finish.
3 – Pittsburgh Penguins – The Penguins became the first NHL team in nearly two decades to win back-to-back Stanley Cups. Their 5th title may be their sweetest, considering the injuries this team had to overcome. But a convincing win over up-and-coming Nashville in the Stanley Cup Final cemented their spot in the history books.
2 – Kennedy Catholic Boys Basketball – The Golden Eagles won their 2nd straight Class A State Title back in March…a convincing, 73-56 win over Girard College. KC now has 8 State Titles in school history…tied for the most in PIAA history. Which leads us to the number 1 spot on our countdown.
1 – Champion Baseball and Softball – The Champion Golden Flashes lived up to their name this year. June 3rd as an historic day for the school. The baseball team beat Hiland, 1-nothing down in Columbus, capturing their first State Title in program history. Then, later that day, the Champion softball team followed suit, with a 5-1 win over Wheelersburg in Akron. And the celebration was on. Champion became the first public school in Ohio history to win both baseball and softball State Titles in the same year.