(July 18, 2016) -- Nope, this isn't the same ol' story.
Although Shenendehowa successfully defended its overall Kerr Cup All-Sport Championship in a fashion nearly as dominating as the 2014-15 performance, the Plainsmen added several new wrinkles in the 2015-16 school year.
Sure, there was a near-record points total, a margin of victory close to last year's historic spread and an impressive balance between the school's boys and girls programs.
But the statistic that stands out above all others is this:
After registering points in a record 11 events last year, Shenendehowa scored in 10 this time. But six of them were sports in which the Plainsmen did not score in the 2014-15 school year. That means they've put up points in an amazing 17 different sports over two years.
"That's one of the things I'm most proud of," athletic director Chris Culnan said by telephone last week. "We've won 26 (Section 2) titles over the last two years in 17 or 18 different sports. It shows versatility and the work that the coaches and the athletes do. ... It's been a great couple of years."
Shenendehowa finished with 61 points to easily outdistance Marlboro (50.75), Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (49), Maine-Endwell (48) and Elmira Notre Dame (46) for overall honors. A year ago, Shen scored 57.17 points to beat the field by a record 12.67 points for the eighth annual Kerr Cup, named in honor Neil Kerr, the retired Post-Standard sportswriter who has been the driving force behind the New York State Sportswriters Association for more than four decades.
Shen finished first overall in boys scoring and second in the girls race. Shen (Class AA) and Notre Dame (C) had the distinction of becoming the first schools to sweep overall, boys and girls honors within their respective enrollment classifications.
Shen did it with balance. Five boys teams and five girls teams contributed points, with baseball capturing a NYSPHSAA title and girls basketball reaching a final. Girls and boys volleyball, field hockey, boys nordic skiing, boys basketball and girls outdoor track all posted third-place showings.
Although forward Carly Boland earned first-team all-state honors in girls basketball and 182-pound wrestler Kevin Parker snagged his second straight NYSPHSAA crown, baseball and boys basketball had the overpowering star power this year. Kevin Huerter was the consensus state player of the year on the court and pitcher Ian Anderson pulled down an estimated $4 million bonus from the Atlanta Braves as the No. 3 pick in the Major League Baseball draft last month.
"Our basketball team the last two seasons was like a rock 'n' roll show," Culnan said. "We sold out almost every game, and we were getting 1,000 to 1,500 people at games when Ian was pitching.
"One of my favorite things about all the kids was seeing Ian and Kevin cheering on their friends on our other teams. It was great that they could be under the microscope the way they were and still be able to enjoy their senior year."
The departure of a stellar senior class means there will be work to be done by coaches across the board when Culnan starts his 10th season as AD in the fall, but there are also prospects in the pipeline. Culnan estimates Shenendehowa had an estimated 600 students a year playing a fall sport when he started at the Clifton Park school. But the district has been adding teams at the modified level in methodical fashion -- "I can go to the school board and the superintendent with an idea about an opportunity to improve what we do and know they'll listen," he said -- and could hit 1,000 participants this fall.
Regardless of whether Shen reaches that milestone, Culnan has other specific goals for the coming year that include continuing to emphasize the overall experience over wins and losses, encouraging coaches to learn more about their craft and continuing to hire smartly at the JV and modified levels.
"I don't see us slowing down," Culnan said. "We're more program-driven than talent-driven."
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake kept Shen from a clean sweep of overall honors. A four-time Kerr Cup champion, the Spartans