As 2012 fades into the rearview mirror, it might be remembered locally as the year that Dogwood Circle sports teams used never-say-die attitudes to take them to new heights.
Some of the biggest success of 2012 came via teams that on multiple occasions found their collective backs against the wall. But, they persevered, pushed on and, for many, reached the top of the mountain.
Here are the top-five moments from the local sports scene in 2012, the year the Dogwood Circle refused to back down.
NO. 5: THE RISE OF JEFFREY WILSON — After a breakout season as a sophomore in 2011, it’s not as if big things weren’t expected of Elkhart running back Jeffrey Wilson in 2012.
But, Wilson managed to exceed even the loftiest expectations set for him, and did so by some margin.
On the year, the junior ran for more than 2,300 yards — an average of close to 230 yards per game for the Elks.
As a team, Elkhart didn’t have a great year, winning only two games. But, Wilson gave fans plenty of memories, from his first 300-yard game of the year against Grapeland, to his monster performance in a loss to Franklin.
In that Franklin game, Wilson and Franklin running back Darius Floyd combined for more than 600 yards and 10 touchdowns — in the first half.
Wilson finished that game with 401 yards rushing in a 69-34 loss, and had three more games in which he ran for 300-plus.
NO. 4: PALESTINE FOOTBALL CONTINUES IMPROVEMENT — Even for all of its success in 2012, the Palestine football team might remember it as the year of “what ifs.”
The Wildcats finished a respectable 7-4, the second-straight season that Lance Angel’s team has done so.
But, three of those losses came by a combined five points to a then state-ranked La Vega team, district champion Fairfield and state semifinalist Carthage.
The first was a heartbreaker to open the season, while the loss to Fairfield in overtime cost the team a district title and the loss to Carthage ended their season.
But, even with the close losses, 2012 still fits the mold of what Angel and his staff are hoping to build at Wildcat Stadium, which is a consistent winner.
The defense improved in 2012, and in sophomore quarterback Gee Clark, the Wildcats seem to have their signal caller for the next two seasons.
Add to that the potent rushing attack of Jarrell Owens and Ben Luckett, and Palestine football seems to be set up nicely for years to come.