- Mike Grimala, ESPNHS
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The past 12 months have been interesting, to say the least. To help us break down everything that happened in 2011 (and look forward to 2012), we're bringing in some experts.
Jalen Duncan, a senior running back, helped the Carmel football team win a state championship by rushing for more than 1,800 yards and 25 touchdowns on the season.
Zach Oakley, a sophomore quarterback, helped Penn reach the state title game by running for almost 1,000 yards.
We asked them about the best of 2011, and they gave us the answers.
THE VERY BEST OF 2011
Best High School Team
Duncan: The Ben Davis football team played with more heart than just about anyone this year. When we watched film of them, we all said "This team just doesn't quit." We thought they were going to go all the way to state this year.
Oakley: Penn volleyball. They had a brand new coach coming in, and they did a great job this season. They've won back-to-back state championships and they have a lot of girls playing at the next level.
Best High School Athlete
Duncan: I gotta go with my boy Gary Harris here. We played AAU together back during my freshman year, and watching him develop in both football and basketball, it's amazing. There's nothing he can't do. He makes some unbelievable plays. He could have gotten a scholarship for football, but in basketball he's like a skinny Dwyane Wade. The guy has unbelievable talent.
Oakley: Jimmy Herman, the defensive back for Carmel. He can really play.
Your Best Moment of 2011 (On the field)
Duncan: After we beat Center Grove the second time, we were all in the locker room and we were playing "This is How We Do It." Some of the coaches walked in, we were all dancing, and we got the coaches to join in and start dancing. That was a great memory.
Oakley: Beating Mishawaka. They're our rival, and they're literally five minutes from Penn. It's been a rivalry for so many years, and they beat us in sectionals last year. So it felt really good to win that game.
Your Best Moment of 2011 (Off the field)
Duncan: The end of the year banquet was fun. Just seeing all the guys dressed up, and talking about stuff besides sports. It was a fun night.
Oakley: When I got my final grades, and knowing that I passed all my finals with A's and B's.
Your New Year's Resolution (On the field)
Duncan: To get after it a lot harder than I did last year. I slacked off last year.
Oakley: Get stronger, faster and work harder than anyone else out there.
Your New Year's Resolution (Off the field)
Duncan: I have to be more focused school-wise. I need to study harder for tests and do homework as soon as I get home instead of waiting longer.
Oakley: Try and get a 4.0 this upcoming semester.
Pro/College Athlete of the Year
Duncan: Aaron Rodgers. You can't say enough about the guy. You can tell he loves the game, and he studies it like it's a college class. If anything goes wrong, he's the first to correct it.
Oakley: Cam Newton. He won a championship in college and his transition to the NFL has been something to watch. He's doing it so quickly, and he's doing it with pizzazz.
Best Pro Championship Team
Duncan: The Green Bay Packers. They came through a lot of adversity and showed a lot of heart in winning the Super Bowl. Most people around here would probably say the St. Louis Cardinals, but I think it's the Packers.
Oakley: I have to go with the Packers, especially because of the success they've had the following year.
Most Memorable Game
Duncan: The last game of the NBA Finals. Dirk Nowitzki had a fabulous series and hit a lot of big shots. He found a way to make shots or get to the free throw line and really held his team together. Like in Game 3, everyone thought that game was over but he brought them back. And once they had the momentum, they closed it out and it was fun to watch.
Oakley: Probably the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State football game. It was just two explosive offenses going back and forth. It was a really fun game to watch.
The one story you want to leave in 2011
Duncan: I'm a Dallas Cowboys fan, so I don't want to hear any more about how they can't win a championship, or Tony Romo isn't clutch. all my friends think the Cowboys suck, so I don't want to hear about the Cowboys losing anymore.
Oakley: No more college scandals with schools paying kids or breaking NCAA rules. I'm tired of that.
Disagree with the Best of 2011? Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala) and make your case.