SHREVEPORT, La (KMSS/KTAL) – 2020 is a year no one will ever forget. We’ve lost legends, made memories, all during a global pandemic. From losing Kobe Bryant in January, the sports world quickly took a downward turn in early March as Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert’s positive COVID-19 test put the sports world on pause.
College basketball conference and national tournaments were canceled, including that of LSU-Shreveport’s. But LSU-S wasn’t the only Shreveport team to have its season cut short, the Shreveport Mudbugs were forced off the ice just before the NAHL postseason. After the news of the basketball cancellations, all NCAA and NAIA Spring sports were canceled, and Louisiana High schools were shut down for the remainder of the year.
As spring turned to summer and the pandemic raged on, there was growing concern as to whether or not the LHSAA’s Fall sports schedule would begin on time, if at all. LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine assured that it would. Bonine kept his word as the start date for a 2020 season was set at October 1st.
With high school football beginning, as did collegiate football. With the SEC taking the lead in collegiate athletics, setting a start date of September 26th with a 10-game conference only schedule on the agenda. In Conference USA, the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs weathered a tumultuous season full of players opting out and teams having to cancel due to COVID complications.
As the FBS football schedule began, as did the NAIA basketball calendar. With it, one of the division’s top teams in the LSU-Shreveport Pilots. The Pilots carried the nation’s longest home winning streak into the season and looked to finish what they began in early 2020, with a new roster full of top-tier talent.
As the high school football season began and played out, numerous teams had seasons to remember, including the Byrd Yellow Jackets who completed an undefeated regular season. The Calvary Cavaliers and Many Tigers also had spectacular regular season campaigns, earning the number 1 seed in their respective divisions/classes.
As the season continued, the talent around the ArkLaTex was on full display on national signing day. Numerous athletes parlayed their talents during the unprecedented 2020 season into opportunities to play at the collegiate level. But, all this excitement did come with disappointment.
LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine decided to move the championship games out of the Superdome in New Orleans to Northwestern State’s Turpin Stadium, citing attendance issues in the city of New Orleans amidst the pandemic.
As area athletes dealt with the loss of a Superdome appearance motivating them into the postseason, two teams in East Texas got to take the field at AT&T Stadium, as the Carthage Bulldogs defeated the Gilmer Buckeyes to win the Class 4A Division II State Title to win their 8th state title under Head Coach Scott Surratt
Another team looking to capture a title also returned soon after. The Shreveport Mudbugs took the ice once more to the delight of hockey fans in the Port City and they returned in a big way, beginning the season with the team’s best 10-game start in the history of the franchise.
In a season full of cancellations and postponements, the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs did earn the opportunity to extend the nation’s longest bowl winning streak in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. Unfortunately, the trip was not a pleasant one as the Bulldogs fell to Georgia Southern 38-3. The loss was the worst in the history of the New Orleans Bowl.
Two area teams who did feel the thrill of a state title were the Many Tigers and Calvary Cavaliers, capturing the second and third state titles in the history of the schools respectively.
In a year we all would like to forget, there was still plenty to celebrate, appreciate, and remember in the sports world from this year. As we enter 2021, we eagerly await to see what teams will rise above the others, which players will overcome obstacles, and who will make this year one to remember. We’ll be there for it all, and we are excited to bring it to you.