Panthers take 1st in Breazeale Cup for third straight year
By Keith Sparks
For the third straight year, Liberty Hill High School was awarded the Austin American-Statesman’s Breazeale Cup, which ranks Central Texas high school athletic programs, regardless of classification, based on the previous year’s success in all sports.
The Panthers made State Championship appearances in football, boys’ basketball, and girls’ soccer, which made their points total hard to beat.
“Over the years, we’ve been really good at everything,” Head Football Coach and Athletic Director Jeff Walker said. “When you play for a State Championship in football, you play for a State Championship in basketball, you play for a State Championship in soccer, that’s pretty hard to match. I don’t know of anybody in the state of Texas in any classification that did that. When you do those kinds of things, it was a special year for us. That’s hard to do at any level. Will it ever be done again? I don’t know. That’s something that’s really, really hard to do.”
Liberty Hill was ranked ahead of perennial Austin-area powerhouses like Westlake, Lake Travis, and Cedar Park, which Walker could only credit to having “good kids and good coaches.”
“I don’t know what separates us from those other places other than we’ve had good kids and we’ve had good coaches,” Walker said. “Good coaches and good players make for good seasons. That’s kind of what we have going right now. I have a lot of veteran coaches that kind of know what it takes to be successful. We push our kids, we demand a lot, our expectations are super, super high. I think when you set the bar that high and you go to reach it in all sports, our kiddos rise up to the occasion – I think more so than most places.”
The Breazeale Cup has only existed for three years, so the Panthers’ three-straight wins span the entirety of the award. Walker is confident that if it were established earlier, they’d have quite a few more Breazeale Cups under their belt.
“We’ve consistently been winning here,” Walker said. “This Breazeale Cup deal has just started. We probably would’ve won it more times than three. I think it’s only been going for three years, if I’m not mistaken, and we’ve won it every time it’s been there and expect to do it again next year. That’s just our expectation. Obviously, we understand that a lot of work has to go in to win it again.”
Walker said the fact that the award is regional would make it less impressive in some areas, but considering the school districts that reside in Central Texas, winning the Breazeale Cup is no small task.
“A lot of places, it wouldn’t be that big a deal, but we have some good school districts in this area,” Walker said. “When you’re beating those, it says a lot about your program and the young men and young ladies you have leading your program.”
As a school, Liberty Hill was awarded 104 points based on the Breazeale Cup’s scale, followed by Westlake in second place with 93, Dripping Springs in third with 91, Georgetown in fourth with 74, Thorndale in fifth with 65, Cedar Park in sixth with 64, Lake Travis in seventh with 62, Blanco in eighth with 59, Vandegrift in ninth with 58, and Lago Vista in 10th with 42.
According to Thomas Jones of the Statesman, “District championships in all team sports were worth two points, win one bonus point for an undisputed title. Playoff berths counted for two points, and each team victory or series victory in the playoffs was worth two points.
“Team points in the so-called individual sports of team tennis, boys and girls cross-country, and boys and girls golf were awarded as follows: two points for a regional berth, two points for a state berth and two points for a regional or state championship.
“Points for individual sports such as swimming, wrestling, and track and field were distributed this way: six points for a state team title, four points for a top-five team finish at state and two points for a top-10 team finish at state.
“Individual tennis champions at the spring tournament earned bonus points for their schools’ tennis scores.”
For the Panthers, girls’ soccer earned 17 points, boys’ basketball earned 17 points, football earned 15 points, baseball earned 13 points, girls’ basketball earned 13 points, softball earned seven points, boys’ soccer earned seven points, volleyball earned five points, boys’ golf earned four points, boys’ cross country earned four points, and girls’ cross country earned two points.