The local high school sports scene was abundant with storylines in 2013. From state championships to perfect seasons to historic runs at state titles, the stories were not hard to come by in 2013.
1. LaBrae makes state title run
Many thought the LaBrae Vikings could have a successful 2012-13 campaign, but not many even considered the thought that the Vikings would make it all the way to Columbus for the state basketball tournament in hopes of winning the school's first state basketball title.
Tribune Chronicle / Michael Taylor
LaBrae’s Peyton Aldridge, right, led the Vikings to the Division III boys basketball state semifinals in March.
Tribune Chronicle / Dave Dermer
Howland’s Gabe Stark won the Division II,?145-pound state title this past March.
But to state they went. Backed by the play of All-Ohio forward Peyton Aldridge, the Vikings finished the season with a 24-4 record, falling in the state semifinals to Versailles by a score of 64-52.
LaBrae's run to make it to Columbus was full of excitement. The Vikings won the Division III Howland district title with a 68-61 double-overtime victory against Ursuline - their first district title in four years.
Then, in a stunning win (but not in the conventional sense), LaBrae cruised in the regional final, thrashing Beachwood, 59-30, to advance to the school's first ever state basketball
By making it to the state final four, the Vikings became the first Trumbull County team to advance to Columbus since Warren G. Harding did so in 2009.
2. Competitive balance voted down
Schools throughout the state of Ohio were prepared to vote on the separation of public and private schools on the May ballot in 2013. However, in a stunning development at the boys state basketball tournament, it was announced that the public vs. private issue was pulled off the ballot in favor of a new competitive balance proposal.
In essence, the proposal was to try and balance all schools by counting the out-of-district players on each roster, and from there to use a mathematical formula to see in what division a team would compete during the season.
The proposal was detailed and in many ways a bit confusing, which made it hard for the OHSAA to present it within the six weeks it had from the time of the announcement to the time of the voting.
In the end, the proposal was voted down by a measure of 327 to 308.
3. Zallow brothers big winners at state track
It's hard enough for one athlete to win a state track and field title, let alone brothers, let alone multiple titles in the same year. However, Carl and Chad Zallow made it look easy during the 2013 State Track and Field meet in Columbus.
To begin the day, Chad, then a sophomore, dominated the 110-meter hurdles, winning with a time of 14.35 seconds. Then, a little later in the day, the hurdler was at it again, winning the 300-hurdles in a state record time of 36.87.
Not to be outdone by his younger brother, Carl, then a junior, won the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.88 seconds.
The state titles were the first for JFK since Ben Nolan captured the Division III 400 title in 2002, and the 4x200 relay titles in '04 and '07.
4. Gabe Stark wins in dramatic fashion
With seconds remaining in his Division II, 145-pound state title match, Howland's Gabe Stark had a decision to make.
"There was 5 seconds left, and I was thinking, 'Do I just save what I have left for overtime?' Then I thought, 'Forget that.' I went for it and just gave it everything," Stark said.
Everything was enough.
Stark hit a switch and secured a reversal with 2 seconds remaining in the third period to beat Shelden Struble, 4-2, and win the state wreslting championship in thrilling fashion.
The senior was the first Tiger to claim a title since Brad Gintert last accomplished the feat in 1984. There have been four runners-up during that span, and Craig Jennings also took second in 1977.
5. McDonald cross country wins - again
There are three guarantees in life - death, taxes and McDonald and Maplewood being good at cross country.
In fitting fashion, the two boys teams duked it out at National Trail Raceway in Hebron for the 2013 Division III state title.
This year, it was the Blue Devils' turn to take home the hardware.
The victory captured the seventh state title for McDonald in school history, with the school winning titles in 1982, '83, '99, 2001, '04, '11 and '13.
That wasn't all for the Blue Devils that day as top runner Bobby Johnson took home the individual state crown with a time of 15:45.48.
When the All-American Conference first came on the scene 2008, it was a three-tiered conference, but after a few years was reduced to two after some teams left for various reasons.
But after a May vote allowed six schools to come into the conference, the AAC is now back at its original three tiers - and eventually a fourth for football.
A near unanimous vote allowed in Warren G. Harding, Brookfield, Boardman, Youngstown East, Pymatuning Valley and Ashtabula Edgewood into the conference. All but PV accepted the invitation.
The conference will begin to play its three-tiered schedule this spring for all sports except football. The football schedule will begin in 2015.
7. Paul Warfield honored
It's no doubt that Warren native Paul Warfield was one of the best players to ever don a football jersey in the city, and now, the local legend will forever be honored in front of Mollenkopf Stadium.
Warfield, who grew into a talented football player at Warren G. Harding High School and later went on to Hall of Fame greatness in the NFL, received the recognition as part of "The Paul Warfield Project: A Hometown Tribute for a Hometown Icon."
Warfield, a 1960 graduate of Harding, was a three-sport star in basketball, football and track in high school. He played halfback at The Ohio State University, where he was a three-year starter and an All-American.
The Warfield Project was spearheaded by high school teammate and Warren native Ray Yannucci and Anthony Payiavlas, president and CEO of AVI Foodsystems, Inc. Warren City Schools didn't contribute financially to the project but have allowed for the placement of the display and, in addition, will name the street that runs from Atlantic Street to Elm Road in front of the school "Paul Warfield Way."
The statue was unveiled in front of a crowd - including Warfield and his wife - on Thursday, Sept. 12, two days prior to the Harding-Massillon game.
8. The ups and down at YSU
Depending on the sport, Youngstown State University had its fair share of ups and downs during the past year.
The 2012-13 season for the YSU women's basketball team was one of history. The Penguins, three years removed from an 0-30 season, won 23 games to finish second in the Horizon League and earn a berth in the Women's National Invitational Tournament. Behind Horizon League Player of the Year Brandi Brown, Coach of the Year Bob Boldon and All-Newcomer Team selection Shar'Rae Davis, the Penguins won 13 more games than they did the previous year.
The men's basketball team also found its share of success, finishing with an 18-16 mark, which was the most wins YSU had posted since the 2000-01 season. The Penguins also secured the first postseason tournament berth in their Division I history.
As successful as the basketball teams were, many could only feel disappointment with the football team. Though Eric Wolford's team finished the season with an 8-4 record, the Penguins failed to reach the playoffs for another season. Many thought this season would end the playoff drought, as YSU went into the month of November with a 7-1 record. However, YSU only won one of its final four games, falling short of the postseason for another year.
9. Bristol completes first 22-0 season
The 2012-13 basketball season was the first in Ohio high school history to have a 22-game regular season schedule. Previously, all teams had played 20 regular season games, plus any additional for a playoff run.
Some team had to be the first to complete the 22-0 mark - and that team was the Bristol Panthers.
Led by All-Ohio player Chad Oliver, the Panthers completed the feat with an 86-52 victory over rival Chalker. It was the program's first-ever perfect regular season as it became Trumbull County's first-ever 22-0 team.
Heading into 2014, the Panthers are still winning. Bristol has won 30 straight regular season games, dating back to the 2011-12 season.
10. Seventh division in football
This season, the Ohio High School Athletic Association expanded the football divisions to seven. The seventh division came from the top, splitting the Division I schools to make a "super division," with schools that have enrollment of 600 males and above. Warren G. Harding, Austintown Fitch and East were the only area schools to stay in Division I.
Locally, this effected the most teams in Division VII, as teams with .500 or even below .500 records had chances at the playoffs.
Chalker qualified for the playoffs with a 5-5 record and was the seventh seed in Division VII, Region 23. Also, heading into their Week 10 matchup, the 2-7 John F. Kennedy Eagles had a chance for the postseason if they would have won in Week 10.