It was a lot a lot of work and a ton of fun over the last couple of weeks to put together my list of the top 50 high school athletes in Central Mass. this decade.
And it was rewarding to see the interest and feedback from the public. I expected nothing less as we take scholastic sports seriously in this part of the state. Here are a few numbers worth noting:
The final tally had each of the 10 school years this decade represented with at least two athletes, with a high of eight in 2013-14 and seven coming from 2010-11, 2012-13 and 2019-20.
Twenty-four schools were represented, with Wachusett Regional leading the way with seven honorees, followed by St. John’s and Shrewsbury with six each. Shrewsbury also had 12 honorable mention selections, with St. John’s and Wachusett right behind with 10 each.
There were 28 boys and 22 girls. Ideally, this would have been an even split, but I elected to slot the top 50 as I saw it without keeping track of gender, and that’s the way it ended up. If I repeated the process next week, those numbers could easily be flipped because there were that many worthy candidates.
Whittling a list of 300 or so athletes down to 50 was just as difficult as I anticipated. It was like a puzzle with too many pieces or a multiple choice test that had more than one correct answer to every question.
With that in mind, I wanted to take an opportunity to mention seven athletes who didn’t make the final cut. Some were closer to the top 50 than others, but they all had résumés I found interesting for one reason or another.
Here they are in alphabetical order:
• Jarod Buffone was the No. 1 golfer and a T&G Super Team selection for six straight seasons at Sutton, from which he graduated in 2018. In addition, he was a four-year varsity basketball player who made the Super Team after leading the Sammies to the Division 3 state semifinals as a senior.
• Jessica DiPilato was a five-year starter and three-time T&G Super Team selection for the Holy Name softball team. She batted .738 as a senior in 2011 and finished her career with 192 hits, which has to be in the conversation for the state record.
• J.J. Howland didn’t play football until his junior year at Tantasqua Regional. As a senior, he finished first or second in CMass in every major receiving category, leading him to sign with Yale. Howland also averaged 20.3 points in basketball his final season and led the Warriors to the 2016 Division 2 state semifinals to become a two-sport T&G Super Team honoree.
• Linebacker Zach Hume recorded 100 tackles in three straight seasons at Nashoba Regional and was a T&G Super Team selection as a junior and the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. The Chieftains went 26-0 and won a pair of Super Bowls — allowing a total of six points in those title tilts — his final two seasons.
• Emily Bourke was a T&G Super Team selection while leading Algonquin Regional to the Central Mass. Division 1 championship in field hockey as a senior in 2011. She also won a CMass title in basketball and a pair of CMass doubles titles in tennis with different partners.
• Allie Smiley and Molly Terry formed a dynamic duo at Notre Dame Academy, from which they both graduated in 2016. Smiley was a two-time T&G Super Team selection in basketball and track and played three years of field hockey. Terry was a Super Teamer in basketball (twice) and field hockey and an all-star in softball.
There is one final thought. Jim Wilson, my sports editor, mentioned Friday how it’s too bad we didn’t think to do separate top 50 lists for boys and girls. What a great idea and one I’ll keep in mind come 2030.
—Contact Rich Garven at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @RichGarvenTG.
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