One team made school history with four playoff wins; another won 13 games; and yet another won three times as many games as it had in the three previous years combined.
It was a banner season all around for the Class 4A and Class 3A schools in the Wichita Falls area, which are honored today on the Times Record News Red River 22 Large School team.
Many would have predicted that a Rider Raider would lay claim to the Offensive Player of the Year honors, but it wouldn't have been senior tackle Harrison Sorge who would have been penciled in.
But Sorge and his fellow linemen held everything together after senior star quarterback J.T. Barrett injured his knee in the fifth game of the year.
Sorge, who has committed to North Texas, couldn't avoid the spotlight at 6-foot-5 and 295 pounds. He gets a little more today, as it's rare for a lineman to win the Offensive Player of the Year.
Graham quarterback Ben Davis is the Most Valuable Player after the junior threw for 3,322 yards and 27 touchdowns while leading the Steers to 13 wins and the Class 3A semifinals.
Rider senior safety/defensive back D.J. Arnold is the Defensive Player of the Year after setting a school record with eight interceptions.
The Coach of the Year honor is split between Rider coach Jim Garfield, who has guided his team to 10 playoff wins in the past three years, and Vernon coach Mark Bateman.
Bateman was in his first year as head coach of the Lions, who had gone 3-27 from 2009-11. This year Vernon stormed out of the gates and challenged Graham in District 5-3A before finishing second. It won one playoff game and finished 9-3.
Davis had a little trouble against Vernon with two interceptions but accounted for two fourth-quarter touchdowns and a two-point conversion in a 34-24 come-from-behind win.
As good as Davis was in the regular season, the MVP turned it on in the playoffs. He was 22 of 25 for 334 yards and four touchdowns in a 40-35 quarterfinal win over Gatesville. He also rushed for a 71-yard touchdown in that one, a contest his team never had the lead and the ball until the final four minutes.
Overall, Davis hit 92 of 127 passes (72.4 percent) with 13 TDs in the playoffs. He said the impetus for this year's success came right after Graham lost its bi-district game in 2011.
"After we lost that game we put on our big boy helmets, and it really started in the weight room," Davis said. "Everybody got together. And then it was 7-on-7 and we had players leading practices by themselves.
"Jerrod (Mahan) was our leader. I know leadership starts in the weight room and my job is to help our team work hard. And even little things like just hanging out make a difference."
Mahan is a part of the Red River 22 defense as a safety. He had six interceptions and scored on three of them, including the clincher against Vernon. Offensive lineman Tyler Fore, running back Dillon Gonzales, linebacker Hunter Walls and receiver Bryce Reeves, a big-play man on both sides of the ball, also represented Graham.
Sorge would feel comfortable on this team with two of his running backs — Domanic Thrasher and Carlos Fleeks — right behind him. Each of them had a pair of 100-yard games in the playoffs. Thrasher and Sorge are the only two repeat selections from the 2011 RR22.
Thrasher scored 150 points — 10 per game — on 23 touchdowns and six two-point conversions. He had 28 of those in a record-setting 64-35 playoff win against El Paso Burges. His TD total was just two short of Deron Royster's team record of 25 (2010).
Thrasher gained a team-high 1,464 yards, while Fleeks came on in the playoffs to finish with 814 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Sorge liked blocking for both of them — his powerful pancake block led to Thrasher's opening touchdown in the Region I-4A final against Frenship — and he had a great view of Fleek's legendary hurdle move in that victory.
"I was in shock, that was crazy," Sorge said. "It was a lot of fun to block for them because I knew they could hit the holes. And it was fun giving the quarterbacks time to throw, too.
"The playoffs were a lot of fun, and a lot of fond memories in the playoffs. To be the first team to make the semifinals was big and we overcame a lot of obstacles this season. I was proud. It was a good senior season."
He's the second consecutive lineman bound for North Texas to receive a special honor following former and future teammate Dylan McDorman, who was the Defensive MVP last year.
"We had a good bond with the offensive linemen and all the practices and stuff was fun with those guys," Sorge said.
Rider guard Mason McGinty and tackle Ty Whitson also made the Red River 22 offense, as did utility back Davon Allison, who started three games at quarterback and also had playoff scores via the run, pass and reception.
Another versatile player was Arnold, who needed every one of those eight interceptions to stay ahead of fellow safety Fred Williams and have the school record for himself. He broke the record of another teammate — Mason Stone — who had six picks in 2010.
"It was amazing," Arnold said. "It was the best football team I've been on. And I've been with most of these guys since my seventh-grade year. They were like family. One family, one team. We were together. If they need anything, I'm here.
"I'm very proud of what we did, especially the young players who stepped up this year to help the seniors. This year has been a hard year. It didn't go like we planned but everybody stuck through it."
Cornerback Tanner Weir made it three Rider secondary members on the team, along with Mahan. Weir had an incredible 12 pass breakups.
"It was fun and our receivers helped us out to get better," Arnold said. "There was a lot of chemistry back there. Fred told me he was trying to catch me (in interceptions)."
Williams nearly did as his seventh interception helped Rider take its final lead of the season and nearly put the Raiders into the state finals.
Other Rider honorees were linebackers Bradley Goldstein and Caleb Levell; linebacker-defensive end Sam Scribner; and defensive lineman Cody Ribble.
Wichita Falls High School was represented by sophomore defensive back Orryn Clark, junior defensive lineman Devin Bazille and junior kicker Chance McWhorter.
Joining Bateman from the Vernon turnaround team are quarterback Brandon Urquizo, the District 5-3A MVP; offensive lineman Devin Torres and outside linebacker Jacobi White.
"It was a great year and I'm proud of our kids for the way they responded," said Bateman, who took over in March. "Our coaches did a tremendous job, the position coaches and the coordinators, of having our kids prepared.
"Our kids responded and fought every ballgame, every day. It's a great thing to build off. We have a great nucleus coming back. These kids learned that if they believed in themselves and work hard anything is possible."
Burkburnett offensive lineman Ricky Clark, a two-way honoree in District 5-3A, rounded out the offensive line selections.