The 2019-20 north country high school sports season will be remembered for tasks unfinished, goals unattained and questions unanswered.
Would Lowville win a state Class B boys basketball championship as appeared to be their destiny? Would South Jefferson win its first state Class B girls basketball title since 2006 or Hammond win its first state Class D girls title since back-to-back crowns in 2007 and 2008?
Would the Chateaugay or Madrid-Waddington boys cash in on their spots in the state basketball quarterfinals? Or how about the St. Lawrence Central girls? Would the Massena boys hockey team win the seventh state championship in program history?
All questions without resolutions.
The erased spring sports season left open an even wider variety of questions.
Would anyone finally be able to beat South Jefferson or LaFargeville in softball? Would the General Brown boys lacrosse team run unchecked through the Frontier League schedule? Who would emerge from the NAC to contend for a state title?
We will never know what could have been accomplished in 2020.
The Times’ All-North banquets — the seventh annual Frontier League and sixth annual Northern Athletic Conference gatherings, had been scheduled to honor each of those never-to-be champions, as well as the actual championship squads from the fall season, at the end of this month. But those banquets, like the spring sports season and the winter sports state championships, were canceled by the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing restrictions.
The Times is unable to recognize those All-North athletes gathered together, with a fine dinner, listening to inspirational words from notable local sports leaders as in the past. But it can relive the moments of the past seasons, as abbreviated as some were, on these pages.
We have also produced an All-North video package that includes speeches to this year’s All-North athletes from Carthage and Lowville football coaches Jason and Josh Coffman, respectively, and the announcement of all of the All-North athletes from the past year. You can find the video at http://wdt.me/All-North2020
Times Sports announces annually at each banquet the top male and female athlete, as selected by the Times staff, for both the Frontier League and the Northern Athletic Conference. With that forum removed, the 2019-20 honorees are announced here:
For the Frontier League, the selections this season are Fombo Azah of Carthage for the boys and Jackie Piddock of South Jefferson for the girls.
Azah shared Times All-North football MVP honors with Lowville’s Chad Bach and helped lead Carthage to the state Class A championship game at the Carrier Dome in November. Azah also went to the state tournament in wrestling, where he placed fourth overall in Division I.
Piddock, a sophomore, was named the state Class B girls basketball player of the year after leading the Spartans to capture a Section 3 championship and a spot in the state quarterfinals.
For the NAC, honorees for 2019-20 are MeSean Johnson of Ogdensburg Free Academy for the boys and Kelsey Bennett of Hammond for the girls.
Johnson was a star player on both the OFA football and boys basketball teams and made the Times All-North first team in both sports, winning Times MVP honors for basketball.
Bennett also won All-North double honors, but for soccer and basketball and was the Times’ NAC MVP for girls soccer. The Red Devils advanced to state play in each sport after capturing Section 10 championships.
Below is a complete list of the Times All-North teams for the 2019-20 season, for soccer, football, hockey and basketball, first team, second team and honorable mentions.
We have republished the first-team selection capsules to help capture the special players and moments that represented our shortened 2019-20 high school season.
Best of luck to each of the All-North athletes in their future endeavors. We hope to honor next year’s All-North picks in the traditional manner at the Hilton Garden Inn in Watertown and SUNY Potsdam’s Thatcher Hall.