High-SchoolTexas: Daniel VErtiz

Top 10 Stories of the Year in Texas

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
10:10
AM ET
The year 2011 is winding down to an end and what a year it was in the world of sports. Here are the top 10 stories from the Texas high school sports scene:

10. Double Dip
All Craig Nowak and Daniel Vertiz did in the last two months of the year was run — and run well. After winning the 5A state championship, Nowak of Cypress Woods took third at the NXN and 14th at Foot Locker Nationals in consecutive weeks. Vertiz of S.A. Reagan performed the same gauntlet, taking second at the state meet, second at NXN and fifth at Foot Locker Nationals. Vertiz and Nowak finished fourth and seventh, respectively, in the DyeStat rankings.

9. Ballers 'R Us
Texas has always been known for football but with the talent brimming from the hardwood this year, basketball has stepped into the spotlight. Led by the likes Isaiah Austin, Cameron Ridley, Marcus Smart and Rasheed Sulaimon, 13 players made the ESPNU 100.

8. Dragons Net Crown
For the second straight season, a Class 5A team went unbeaten en route to the state crown. This time it was Southlake Carroll, which finished 28-0-3 behind tournament MVP Oshick Sams' dominant play in goal.

7. Watch the Throne
As you've already seen and will find out later (see No. 2), Southlake Carroll had a good year, to say the least. After winning in soccer, the Dragons went on to make noise in cross country by dethroning five-time Class 5A champ The Woodlands by scoring a meet-record 20 points. The Dragons nearly completed a perfect season but finished second behind CBA at Nike Cross Nationals.

6. Lions Shine at City of Palms
Just a few days after suffering a loss to Grace Prep in front of a national TV audience, Prestonwood Christian got even in a big way at the City of Palms tournament in Florida. The Lions knocked off Bishop Gorman (Nev.) and nationally ranked Riverside (Calif.) before beating Grace Prep by 20 points to become the first Texas team to win the City of Palms.

5. Super Mario
A year after being named Class 4A Defensive Player of the Year, Denton Ryan's Mario Edwards Jr. left little doubt as to who was the nation's top player. As for where the No. 1 player in the ESPNU 150 will head to college, that isn't so sure. Edwards is committed to Florida State but is still strongly considering Oklahoma, among other schools.

4. Drive for Five
Lake Travis' push for a fifth straight Class 4A football title appeared to take a hit when QB Colin Lagasse went down in the first game. But junior Baker Mayfield stepped up big, throwing for 3,788 yards, 45 touchdowns and just five interceptions to lead the Cavaliers to a 16-0 record and another championship. The Cavs are the first 11-man team to win five straight titles.

3. Marcus Makes its Mark in Hoops
Almost a year to the day after shedding tears of sadness over losing in the Class 5A state semis, Marcus Smart and FM Marcus hoops team shed tears of joy this past winter when they capped a 38-1 campaign with the Class 5A crown. Smart sits as the reigning Gatorade State Player of the Year in the Marauders' drive to repeat this season.

2. Gridiron Kings
Southlake Carroll had quite a ride to the Class 5A, Division I title. The Dragons have to come back in every playoff game, had some question whether a late onside kick travelled 10 yards in the semifinal against Skyline and saw a fox join the action during Kenny Hill's game-winning TD run in the same game. Hill, not the fox, proved to be the star of the 36-29, title-game win against Fort Bend Hightower as the junior QB totaled 345 yards and four scores to earn offensive MVP honors. The Dragons are now tied with Celina for the most football titles in state history.

1. Gray's Anatomy
It's safe to say that no football player boasts a better rèsumè than Johnathan Gray. The Aledo senior tailback broke the national record for career touchdowns with 206, won Gatorade National Player of the Year, repeated as Gatorade State Player of the Year and Mr. Football USA, won a second Class 4A, Division II title and finished in the top five nationally in career rushing yards, points, carries and 100-yard games. Texas Longhorn fans are more than happy that UT hooked this legend.

Brandon Parker covers Texas for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter@brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Five days of List-Mas: Texas' A-list

December, 12, 2011
12/12/11
3:17
PM ET
5

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday

Whether you’re putting together a grouping of best quarterbacks or worst albums, or you’re making that special list for Santa, there’s nothing quite like a good list. So in honor of the holiday season we’re bringing you lists all week long — Merry List-Mas!

Today: A-Listers

In the NFL, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are A-Listers. In the NBA, it’s LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. But who are the A-Listers in Texas? That’s where today’s list comes in. Regardless of sport, here’s our list of the top five A-List athletes in the state. Can you think of an A-Lister we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments.

5. Daniel Vertiz (SR), S.A. Reagan, Cross Country
Credentials: NXN runner-up, fifth at Foot Locker Nationals, second at 5A state meet

4. Marcus Smart (SR), Flower Mound Marcus, Basketball
Credentials: Oklahoma State recruit, nation's No. 11 player in ESPNU 100, reigning Gatorade State Player of the Year, led Marauders to Class 5A state title, adidas Super 64 MVP

3. Julius Randle (JR), Prestonwood Christian, Basketball
Credentials: Nation's No. 3 player in ESPNU 60, 2011 Elite 24 participant, tweeted by Kevin Durant

2. Mario Edwards Jr. (SR), Denton Ryan, Football
Credentials: Nation's No. 1 player in ESPNU 150, Florida State commit, 2010 Class 4A Defensive POY

1. Johnathan Gray (SR), Aledo, Football
Credentials: Texas recruit, No. 5 player in ESPNU 150, two-time Gatorade State POY, 2011 Gatorade National POY, 2010 Mr. Football USA, two-time Class 4A, Division II champion, nation's all-time career TD co-leader, state record holder in carries, touchdowns, points, 100-yard games and single-season rushing touchdowns

Click here to check out some of the other states in our Five Days of List-Mas.

Brandon Parker covers Texas for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHS.com. Follow him on Twitter@brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Southlake Carroll XC ranks second in POWERADE FAB 50

August, 30, 2011
8/30/11
3:42
PM ET
The love — and expectations — just keep coming for Southlake Carroll's cross country team. The Dragons opened the season No. 2 behind New Jersey's Christian Brothers Academy in the POWERADE FAB 50 rankings. Obviously, that's what happens when you return all seven runners from a squad that finished second at the Class 5A state meet.

Of course, not too far behind the Dragons is The Woodlands, the reigning state champs for the past five years. Their in-state battle should have quite an effect on national rankings, as the Highlanders currently sit in the No. 8 spot. Click here to read more about Southlake Carroll's power squad and here to see who else made the national rankings.

Texas also has some star power on the individual side. Now that Craig Lutz has graduated, Daniel Vertiz of S.A. Reagan is a favorite in 5A after finishing third in the state last season. Likewise, Hebron's Kevyn Hoyos will have many eyes on him after taking fourth at the 5A state meet and NXN South Regional. Check out where these two landed on the DyeStat top 25 boys rankings.

Brandon Parker covers Texas for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

Texas cross country preview

August, 25, 2011
8/25/11
11:54
AM ET
Today we'll branch out to cross country — you know, the sport that makes most of us look ridiculously out of shape.

For the last five years, The Woodlands has refused to give up the Class 5A state crown, but a loaded Southlake Carroll might change that this season. The Dragons enter the season ranked second in the nation. (Stay tuned for the October edition of ESPNHS magazine for more on Southlake Caroll's squad.) Here's what DyeStat's Marc Bloom has to say about the upcoming season:
Last year’s see-saw battles from the Nike South Invitational to the state championships to the NXN South Regional may well continue between rivals Southlake Carroll and The Woodlands, state 5A defender. The Woodlands returns 5 of 7, but the two losses are paramount. Carroll has everyone from its regional runner-up squad after a track season in which its top man, Trevor Gilley, ran a 4:09.37 mile as a sophomore, while the next 4 runners clocked 4:20 to 4:25. This is a team that comes on late, knows how to peak and could win NXN when all is said and done.

The Woodlands is also led by a super-soph from last year, Brigham Hedges, a 4:14/9:17 trackman. Other top individuals include 5A 3rd-placer Daniel Vertiz (San Antonio Reagan), who ran a 9:00.22 runner-up 3200 in state 5A; the 4th-placer, Kevyn Hoyos (Hebron), 4th in the state 3200 in 9:10.66; and the 6th-placer, Craig Nowak (Cypress Woods), state 1600 champion in 4:08.67.

Click here to get the cross country scoop on all 50 states and here to get an idea of how the girls competition could shake out.

Brandon Parker covers Texas for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at brandon.c.parker@espn.com.

SPONSORED HEADLINES