The SureWest Sports Show is concluding the academic year with honors for coaches, athletes and teams.
Headed by tireless show host Mike Finnerty in polling area programs and media, SureWest is recognizing the following today, tomorrow and next week with in-person presentations:
* Ernie Cooper, Coach of the Year
The varsity football coach for Granite Bay since the school opened in the mid 1990s, Cooper and the Grizzlies had their crowning season last fall. Granite Bay overcame a slow start to the season amid a brutal nonconference schedule, then won the Sierra Foothill League championship and rolled in the postseason, capturing the Sac-Joaquin Section title over Oak Ridge and then beating St. Ignatius of San Francisco in the first CIF NorCal Division I championship. The capper was rallying late to beat nationally renowned Long Beach Poly in the CIF State D-I Bowl game.
Cooper, as energized and engaged as he can be fiercely demanding, was named The Sacramento Bee Coach of the Year, the MaxPreps NorCal Coach of the Year and the Cal-High Sports Coach of the Year.
* Eliseo Lopez, Girls Coach of the Year
In his ninth season heading the soccer program at Franklin, the Wildcats had a historic breakthrough this spring. Franklin tied Davis for the Delta Valley Conference championship then beat the longtime power on penalty kicks to win the Sac-Joaquin Section D-I championship. It was the first time an Elk Grove Unified School District team had won the section large-school title since the postseason tournament started in 1981. Davis was held scoreless for 100 minutes (80 in regulation plus two 10-minute overtime sessions). Franklin scored 87 goals this season while allowing eight.
* Boys Team of the Year
Headed by all-time coaching great Paul Rose, Jesuit soccer won its third Sac-Joaquin Section D-I championship in four seasons and 10th overall, beating Granite Bay 5-0. The Marauders went 27-1-1 and ranked No. 1 nationally by MaxPreps and No. 2 by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. The lone setback was to nationally ranked Jesuit of Portland and a 1-1 tie to Granite Bay. Key playersr included Niko Hansen, Kaba Alkebulan, Tucker Bone and Luc Barbe.
* Girls Team of the Year
Guided by perhaps the greatest volleyball coach in regional history in terms of impact, success and lasting reputation in Alynn Wright, St. Francis volleyball thundered to a 38-3 record, a run that included a Delta River League championship, a Section D-I title and a NorCal championship. The Troubadours were paced by Bee Player of the Year Gabby Palmeri and Allie Wegener, Loni Kreun, Allison Child, Dana Vestman, Hannah Liserra, Ali Koumelis and Lea Felton.
* Girls Athlete of the Year
Oakmont three-sport star and scholar Katie Carte expertly managed her academics, social and family life and sporting ventures as a senior. She played volleyball, soccer and is still active in track and field.
* Boys Athlete of the Year
Antelope three-sport wizard Tyler Winston made juggling year-round sports and a full academic load seem easy. He was a standout receiver, the lead guard in basketball and a leader in baseball.
Go to www.surewestsports.com for more: program highlights, story links, rankings, etc.
- Joe Davidson
- On Twitter: @SacBee_JoeD
- On Podcast: ESPN1320.net