The year 2011 is winding down to a close and what a year it's been in the world of sports. Here are the top 10 stories from the Missouri high school sports scene:
10. Pin 'Em Down
Blue Springs dethroned two-time defending Class 4 champ Park Hill to win its first state title in 12 years. Lewis Foutz, Greg Hegarty, Darick Lapaglia and Daniel Lewis all won individual crowns for the Wildcats.
9. Solid as a Rock
In swimming, it's almost become a question of by how much and not who will win the state championship, thanks to Rockhurst's recent run of dominance. The Hawklets extended their reign to a state-record eight titles this past fall and this time they did it without fielding an individual champ.
8. Zach Attack
A year after winning Gatorade State Runner of the Year, it appeared Zach Herriott was headed for a disappointing senior season after finishing 13th at the cross country state meet. But the Rockhurst harrier bounced back with a ninth-place showing at the prestigious Nike Cross Nationals meet.
7. Perfect Saint
In the strive for a state championship, St. Louis Priory's soccer team one-upped itself. The Rebels went 27-0 to complete the second undefeated season in state history and cop the Class 2 crown. The only other program to go undefeated were the 2005 Rebels, who went 26-0.
6. Falcons Soar
In just its fourth year of existence, Staley made its mark in the history books by marching its way to the Class 5 state football title. Led by rushing machines Trent Hosick (2,054 yards and 31 TDs) and Morgan Steward (2,226 yards and 27 scores), the Falcons went 14-0 and downed previously undefeated Kirkwood in the title game.
5. Cardinal Rule
After graduating nearly 30 players from last year's Class 4 state championship squad, it appeared that 2011 would be a rebuilding year for Webb City. But the Cardinals didn't miss a beat, extending their regular-season win streak to 81 games and going undefeated en route to a repeat Class 4 title. In their 56-42 win against MICDS, the Cardinals helped set championship game records for combined points and yards (1,048).
4. Shooting Stars
For most of the 2010-11 season, Chaminade appeared to be the favorite with All-American Bradley Beal and a 27-0 start. But McCluer North avenged an early-season loss to the Red Devils by beating them 57-56 in the Class 5 quarterfinals behind B.J. Young's 27 points. The Arkansas recruit went on to lead the Stars to the Class 5 title.
3. Big Beal
Although his team fell short of the Class 5 hoops title, Bradley Beal ended his senior season on a good note. The Chaminade senior was named Gatorade National Player of the Year after averaging 32.4 points for the Red Devils. Beal is currently a freshman starter for the Florida Gators.
2. Notorious DGB
He's been the talk of the state football scene since his freshman year and as Dorial Green-Beckham capped his prep career in 2011, he showed just why. The Hillcrest senior shattered the national mark for career receiving yards by finishing with 6,356 yards and broke his own state record by recording 2,233 receiving yards to go with 24 touchdowns and 119 catches. Green-Beckham also led the Hornets to their best season ever, going 11-2 and reaching the Class 4 quarterfinals.
1. Joplin Recovers
The 2011 sports season got off to a rough start for many when a tornado tore through Joplin in May, killing 160 while destroying much of the town and Joplin High School. The Eagles football team proved to be a source of unity and healing, as many came out to the games and the team helped raise money en route to a 3-8 season.
Brandon Parker covers Missouri for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.