■ Editor’s note: This is the final installment in a 10-part series looking back at the top stories of the decade in the Longview News-Journal’s coverage area.
Carthage doesn’t win state championships in football every season. It just seems that way.
In 2019, the Bulldogs did it again, piling up a 16-0 record and winning its third state title in four seasons and seventh championship in 13 years under head coach Scott Surratt.
Carthage, with junior quarterback Kai Horton passing for 231 yards and three touchdowns and junior running back Mason Courtney rushing for 232 yards and three scores, notched a 42-28 win over Waco La Vega to win the Class 4A Division I championship. Kelvontay Dixon, the game’s offensive MVP, hauled in seven passes for 120 yards and caught all three TD strikes from Horton.
In other top stories from 2019:
■ 2. City success. For the first time since the 2001 season, all three University Interscholastic League schools with campuses inside the city limits of Longview — Longview, Pine Tree and Spring Hill — earned a trip to the high school football playoffs.
Longview finished 11-1 and fell in the second round of the playoffs to Dallas Jesuit. It was the 11th perfect regular season in school history and the 40th district title for the Lobos.
Pine Tree went 5-6 and lost to A&M Consolidated in bi-district play, and Spring Hill went 6-6 under first-year head coach Jonny Louiver. The Panthers earned their first playoff trip since 2007 and defeated Caddo Mills for the program’s first playoff win since 2004.
■ 3. HOF coaches. Former Carthage baseball coach Scott Lee and legendary basketball coaches Ken Loyd and Carl Allen all got the hall call in 2019.
Lee, who won 511 games and two state titles in 23 seasons at Carthage, was inducted into the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in January.
Loyd and Allen were selected as Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame inductees in July, but their scheduled induction in May of 2020 was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Loyd coached for more than 40 years and won 851 games, including two state titles at Avinger and one at Huntington.
Allen, who died in 2001, won 714 games in his career and won back-to-back state titles at Sabine.
■ 4. King picks Aggies. After narrowing the long list of offers down to four — Tennessee, Auburn, Duke and Texas A&M — Longview quarterback Haynes King gave a verbal pledge to the Aggies before the start of the 2019 season.
He later signed with the Aggies after finishing his Lobo career with a 37-2 record as a starter, 7,727 passing yards, 86 passing touchdowns and 1,311 rushing yards and 20 more TDs on the ground.
■ 5. Queen of the court. Spring Hill senior tennis standout Lexi Penn closed out her high school career in style by winning the Class 4A singles state championship. Penn, who signed with the University of Central Oklahoma, was making her third trip to the UIL State Tennis Tournament. She was a state finalist as a freshman in doubles and a state semifinalist in mixed doubles with her brother, Dawson, as a junior.
■ 6. Titans dynasty. Trinity School of Texas captured its fourth straight TAPPS Class A state championship in golf with a victory at Squaw Valley Golf Club in Glen Rose.
■ 7. Volleyball road. A 17-mile stretch of highway is home to Tatum, Carthage and Beckville high schools and Panola College, and those programs continued to dominate on the court in 2019.
Beckville advanced to its eighth straight regional tournament and finished with a 36-14 record. Tatum went 32-11 and reached the regional tournament. Carthage piled up 41 wins and advanced to the UIl State Tournament for the first time since 2003, and Panola College went 30-10 and earned its third trip to the NJCAA National Tournament for the third time in four seasons.
■ 8. Two for Austin. Kilgore and Linden-Kildare both ended long droughts between trips to the UIL State Baseball Tournament.
Kilgore finished 32-8 on the season and made its fourth trip to the state tournament — but first since 1972. The Bulldogs fell to Sweeny, 5-1, in the Class 4A state semifinals.
Linden-Kildare joined Tiger squads from 1980, 1984 and 1985 in making it to the big dance. The Tigers finished 21-10 on the season, defeating Valley Mills (5-0) in the state semifinals and falling to Dallardsville Big Sandy (7-1) in the 2A championship game.
■ 9. Gentle Giant dies. Rick Dowdle, who led Pine Tree to a state championship as a player and was a longtime coach at the school, died at the age of 63.
Dowdle helped lead the Pirates to the 1973 state title, and later coached at Kilgore and Longview before returning to Pine Tree as an assistant and then taking over as head coach. His Pirate teams won two district titles, a pair of bi-district championships and qualified for the postseason four other times in Dowdle’s 15 seasons on the sidelines.
■ 10. Traylor to UTSA. Former Gilmer head football coach Jeff Traylor, who spent five seasons as an assistant coach in the college ranks at Texas, SMU and Arkansas, was named head coach at UT San Antonio.
Traylor, a 1986 Gilmer graduate, coached at Gilmer for 15 seasons, winning 87 percent of his games, earning state titles in 2004, 2009 and 2014 and playing for it all in 2007 and 2012.