A Look Back at 2014 in Philly, Local Sports
While 2014 may not have been the best sports year for both South Jersey and the Delaware Valley, there were some moments that we can look back too and remember fondly.
In 2014, the Phillies finished last, the Sixers finished last, the Flyers went seven games with the Rangers before they went home in the first round and the Eagles started the year off by losing to New Orleans in the playoffs and ended it by not making the playoffs in Chip Kelly's second season.
Locally, some great stories emerged.
Two Cape Atlantic League baseball teams did something that had never been done - on the same day.
On June 7, history was made when the Buena Chiefs captured the Group II State baseball title, a few hours later Mainland brought home the Group III State title. No Cape Atlantic League public school had ever won a state title since the playoffs format started in 1971.
On Mar. 1, a pair of Cape May county teams captured the Cape Atlantic League basketball playoff titles when the Middle Twp. girls defeated Wildwood Catholic and the Wildwood Catholic boys dominated Atlantic City to win their first ever CAL title. The Cedar Creek girls had a group of sisters, lead them the the Group II state semi-finals - they started when the school opened and went out with a tremendous run.
On Nov. 13, the Ocean City boys soccer program continues to be one of the area's best, for the second straight season the Red Riders captured a Group III South Jersey and added it title to their already impressive resume. They captured the trophy with a 2-0 win over Toms River South, it was the 10th sectional title overall.
Speaking of soccer, the Pleasantville Greyhounds have had a ton of success on the basketball court in their school's history, but never have they been thought of as a soccer power. That could be changing, the school won a record 13 games. For the first time ever, the Greyhounds won the Cape-Atlantic League National Conference title and captured the school's first ever playoff win, congrats to coach Mark Eykyn's Greyhounds.
On Nov. 22 a pair of South Jersey runners took the cross country world by storm when senior Devon Grisbaum of Ocean City won the prestigious Meet of Champions, and right behind her was freshman Alyssa Aldridge of Mainland. The race features the top runners from all six New Jersey groups. On the boys side, Middle Township senior Ryan Herlihy led the Panthers to their first CAL title ever.
On Dec. 6, the St. Joe's football team won their sixth straight Non-public I State title when they defeated St. Anthony's 55-0 at Kean College. The Wildcats finished off what might be their most impressive season ever, a season which included a 25-23 road victory over traditional national power Steubenville, Ohio back on Oct. 12. The Wildcats were led by running back A'laam Horne (1180 yards, 22 TD's), quarterback Salaam Horne (1053 yards, 14 TD's - 749 rush yards and eight TD's) and C.J. LaFragola's 702 yards and 14 scores.
Other than St. Joe a few other local football stories emerged, Buena finished 2013 just 5-5, but had an improbable run to the National Conference title going 10-1 on the season, losing to eventual Group II champion Haddonfield. The single-game rushing record was broken, then it was broken again. On Oct. 10 Millville's Ryquell Armstead ran for 337 yards, which was a Cape-Atlantic League record, it last three weeks. On Halloween night, St. Augustine running back LaMont Harris ran for 339 yards to set a new school and CAL record.
Those were some of local stories that stood out in 2014 - here are my Top 10 moments of 2014.10. The Sixers may have lost 26 games in a row and started the but they did avoid infamy - not once but twice in 2014. On Jan 29 the Sixers lost, they wouldn't win again until for two months, a span of 26 games. Finally on Mar 29 the Sixers snapped their 26-game losing streak to avoid the record for most consecutive losses by a professional team. This year the Sixers started the season 0-17 before finally winning their first game on Dec 4 in Minnesota to avoid the longest losing streak to start a season.9. On May 7, 2014, Paul Holmgren was promoted to President of the Flyers and Ron Hextall was promoted to General Manager. On June 23, 2014, Hextall made his first major move as Flyers GM when he traded Scott Hartnell to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for R. J. Umberger and a fourth-round pick in the 2015 draft.
8. The Phillies announced a new broadcast deal with Comcast Sports Net on Jan 2, a deal that many would help hope the team compete with some of the big boys in terms of spending, that remains to be seen. However, one thing that happened with this deal was the team had new color analyst on the TV side on Feb 11 the team announced that Jamie Moyer and Matt Stairs would replace Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews.
7. While the Sixers didn't have much success, the fans had a lot of excitement in the lead up to the NBA draft. With two lottery picks, plus the debut of Nerlens Noel coming, fans thought they were going to get to see a lot of young talent on display in 2014. Yes, Noel made his debut, but the team drafted Joel Embiid, who might miss the entire season with a foot injury and Dario Saric, who is contractually obligated to play overseas for two more seasons.
6. The Sixers were very busy making trade-after-trade. But one trade that many might remember was the deal that sent Thad Young, a seven-year Sixer, to Minnesota in a blockbuster deal that shipped Kevin Love to Cleveland and top overall pick in this year's draft, Andrew Wiggins to Minnesota - the Sixers ended up with Alexy Shved (since traded) and Luc Mbah a Moute in the deal.
5. While it might not have the feel that it should, on Dec 7, LeSean McCoy became the Eagles all-time rushing leader. The accomplishment came following a loss to Seattle in a game McCoy ran 17 times for just 50 yards. He currently stands at 6693, passing Wilber Montgomery's 6538 yards for the top spot in Eagles history.
4. While the Sixers season might have been dreadful, they have made this list quite a few times. They have definitely been busy trying to build their franchise back from the ground up. The first piece of those building blocks was point guard Michael Carter-Williams. The Syracuse alum won rookie of the year honors with 16.7 points, 6.3 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game.
3. Millville high graduate Mike Trout has made many from South Jersey proud and put South Jersey baseball on the map even before he won the American League MVP award this season. After being runner-up two seasons in a row, the former Thunder-Bolt captured the award in just his third season.
2. Long-time Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins was drafted by the Phillies in 1996, he made his debut for the Phillies in 2000, by 2001 he was the team's starting shortstop. In 2007 he was the league MVP, won a word series in 2008 and on June 14, Rollins made Phillies history when he recorded his 2,235th hit, a single to right field, to surpass Mike Schmidt as the Phillies' all-time hits leader
1. DeSean Jackson was coming off one of the greatest statistical seasons in Philadelphia Eagles history, 82 catches, 1332 yards and nine touchdowns. His 16.2 yards per catch gave the Eagles a legit playmaker down-the-field. However, on March 28, NJ.com revealed Jackson had gang connections and off-the-field issues and a couple hours later, the Eagles cut Jackson. Fans can argue about that moves impact on the Eagles 2014 back-and-forth, and they have. It might just be the move that defines Chip Kelly's tenure as Eagles head coach and that's why it is our top moment of 2014.
Top Local moments of 20145. Wildwood Catholic wins first ever CAL title in boys basketball beating Holy Spirit in semi-finals and Atlantic City in the finals.T3 - Mainland Baseball wins 2014 SJ Group III Champions & 2014 NJ Group III State Champions
T3 - Buena Baseball wins 2014 SJ Group II Champions & 2014 NJ Group II State Championship on the same day.
2. St. Joe football wins 6th state title in a row.
1. Middle Twp head basketball coach Tom Feraco returns to the bench on Feb 8 following prostate cancer treatment.
Other Top 5 moments
5. While New Jersey hasn't been much of a college football state, the Rutgers football team is hoping to change their thinking. The Scarlet Knights joined the Big Ten Conference and made their debut in 2014, bringing big-time football to the Garden State.
4. Lower Cape May Regional and Villanova alum Matt Szczur makes MLB debut with the Chicago Cubs.
3. St. Augustine Prep pitcher Joe Gatto draft 53rd overall by Angels
2. Team USA soccer makes run at World Cup, takes country on a wild soccer run.