1. Strawberry Crest High School cheerleading
Some of these annual top five decisions are tricky to make. Others, not so much. This was the easiest call to make in the Observer’s short history. Were the Chargers executing perfectly on the mat in every competition? No, and they’ll be the first to tell you that. But, given their 2019-20 resumé, they must have been close enough. Crest won Western Conference, which it did not do in 2019. Crest won its sixth consecutive state title by scoring almost 24 more points than 2A Small Co-Ed runner-up Wiregrass Ranch in January. Crest outscored literally every team in the entire 2A classification except for West Nassau, but that was only a 4.11-point difference. Crest became the first Hillsborough County team to ever win a national championship when it won the Small Varsity Co-Ed division at February’s UCA Nationals in Orlando. Can you say, “dynasty?” We certainly can.
2. Plant City High School Special Olympics Unified basketball
Is there anything more stressful than chucking up a fourth-quarter buzzer beater in any basketball game, let alone a state championship game? It’s the longest moment of your game and it only lasts for the few seconds in which the ball’s in the air. You know who wasn’t scared of that moment? Taylor Teeden and the Plant City Raiders, who won their second of two state championship games like that in February. It was a fantastic finish for a fantastic team.
3. Strawberry Crest High School girls soccer
2020 was a big year for Crest’s girls soccer team, which did more than just post the second winning regular season (with a third soon to come) in program history. The girls won their first-ever district championship in February and currently have a 9-0 overall record, outscoring opponents 55-3. The 2019-20 squad featured each of the top three goal scorers in program history (Emily Rosales, Kali Vician and Ezra Carpenter) and the 2020-21 squad looks even stronger on both ends of the field.
4. Durant High School hockey
Durant’s hockey team had plenty to be pleased about in 2020 with strong two-way play and solid goaltending from Ryan Putnam and Will Chabalowski. The Cougars made the LHSHL playoffs for the second time in three seasons, but this season was even better: Durant finished with 30 points on the season (12-4-6), sent three players to the 2020 Honda High School Hockey All-Star Showcase (in which Putnam was named third star) and qualified for the SAHOF State High School Championships in Fort Myers.
5. Plant City Dolphins Midgets football
The Plant City Dolphins Midgets team didn’t dominate every opponent it faced in the shortened 2020 TCYFCC season. There were a handful of one-score games mixed in the scoresheet. What the team did, however, was shut everybody out. No one in TCYFCC play could score on the 2020 Midgets team, which extended its league win streak to 50. We’d usually mention a Superbowl win here with the Midgets, but the COVID-19 pandemic altered the schedule and they’re now set to start the first round of the playoffs in January. If ever there were a betting favorite in youth football, they’d be that.
High school sports stats were obtained from MaxPreps.com.