Just over a decade ago, I beleive it was the 2005-2006 school year, The Essex Trojans were 8-man softball state semifinalists, 21-2 in basketball and finished one game from the state touranment in baseball. When you add in their Corner Conference track title in the spring, it gave the Trojans the distinction of winning an outright conference title in all four HS sports seasons.
Granted, there is no "conference" football title, but as state semifinlists that season it can be factually argued that they wrapped up the season as the most accomplished team in the conference. That was a motley assortment of athletic talent combined with a zero mercy mentality that laid waste to the rest of the league in all four sports. The list of names reads like a who is who of southwest Iowa. Slater, Duysen, King, Almquist, Young, Ward and Ward.
It hasn't happened since then. Even the most dominant class to come through the Corner since then have fallen short, both male and female. It's much harder than one would first surmise. Difficult to win three let alone four. Hell it's hard enough to win fall and winter both, let alone run the table for the full school year.
In 2015-2016 the Sidney Cowgirls won three of the four sports seasons and came really close to pilfering the basketball season title with a little help from Nishnabotna and some Plummer magic down the stretch. In the end, Essex defeated Sidney by a basket in late January at Allen Stuart Gym to claim the title for themselves.
Fast forward to 2016-2017. The Cowgirls rolled through the volleyball season unbeaten in conference, and with last Friday's win over Essex, Sidney would have to lose twice in its reaming regular season games to lose a claim on an outright title. Not likely.
The reality of the situation is that the Cowgirls will enter track season two for two, and they are already defending track and softball champions. Between Lexy Larsen and Mac Daffer the Cowgirls graduated a ton of points, but the speed and depth run deep in Rodeo City right now and its tough to envision Sidney not being the favorite.
The incredible Stanton boys juggernaut that followed the aforementioned Essex squads never managed to do it. Neither did Nate Meier and the county line wrecking crew in Tabor, nor did the incredible gilrs classes at Fremont-Mills that followed. The Stanton Viqueens for all their success in so many sports over the last ten years never managed it either.
Now keep in mind that the Cowgirls as of yet have only won the Corner volleyball title. There are still three more to go, but I'll be watching carefully. Yeah, I know. School closings, consolidations, declining participation, I get it. It's still a pretty big deal. Besides if it was as simple combining rosters, East Mills would have done when they joined in together back in 2007.
The Essex teams of a decade ago were simply loaded with talented and they played with an unbridled fury that I think back on even today and say “remember when?” For now they sit alone and undisturbed on one of the shelves that whirl around in my memories. I guess time will tell if I have to slide them over to make room for the Cowgirls iof 2016-2017.