1. Dino Cannon’s death
Dino Lavella Cannon was shot and later died in Florida while vacationing with family and friends on June 15, less than two weeks after graduating from Killeen High School.
The former Kangaroos’ defensive back was reportedly shot twice in the chest outside an Orlando nightclub, where he spent the evening with his four sisters and a number of friends celebrating his recent graduation and 18th birthday. An altercation earlier in the evening involving Cannon’s sisters led to members of another group being removed from the club and is suspected to have led to the shooting, which occurred in a parking lot. Cannon later died at Orlando Regional Medical Center.
Durick Ingraham, 25, has been charged with second-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon in the case and has a pre-trial meeting in mid-February. Another man, Dwayne Cedric Sykes, was also arrested in the crime and later charged with accessory.
2. RG3 drafted by Redskins
People from Copperas Cove knew what Washington was getting. Baylor fans knew what Washington was getting. The Redskins, on the other hand, could not have fully understood exactly what Robert Griffin III would bring to the fledgling franchise.
But they quickly found out. Drafted second overall behind Stanford standout quarterback Andrew Luck, who was selected by Indianapolis shortly after the Colts parted ways with longtime cornerstone Peyton Manning, Griffin took the league by storm. The rookie quickly earned the respect of the team, becoming offensive co-captain by mid-November, and was named to the Pro Bowl roster after throwing for more than 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns to go with an additional 700-plus rushing yards.
More important, between becoming a certified NFL superstar and an endorsement icon, RG3 resurrected the Redskins, guiding them to the playoffs for the first time since 2007 following a 5-11 season in 2011.
3. Ellison’s Buddy McBryde resigns
Following a second-straight winless season, embattled Ellison head football coach and athletic coordinator Buddy McBryde resigned Nov. 16, effective the end of his current contract.
McBryde had dealt with staunch criticism since instituting the run-centric wing-T offense following his promotion in 2008 after three years as defensive coordinator under former coach Bret Boyd.
In five years as head coach, McBryde couldn’t translate talent into wins, compiling a 13-37 record.
KISD has already begun its search for a replacement, receiving interest from at least 60 candidates, and will ramp up the search once the official job posting closes on Jan. 7. From there, it is expected KISD will begin setting up interviews by the end of that week.
4. Gatesville’s super centennial season
Coming off a 4-6 season, it appeared Gatesville was in store for a difficult start to life in District 8-3A. The transition turned out to be literally flawless.
The Hornets did not lose a single game during the regular season, won each of its five district games by at least 20 points and finished with the second-most wins (13) in the program’s 100-year history.
Led by a group of 28 seniors who were groomed for this one season since sixth grade, Gatesville beat former district rivals Waco Connally and Waco La Vega convincingly, won its first district championship in over a decade and produced a dramatic playoff run littered with last-second and come-from-behind victories.
The only real downside was its elimination from the playoffs as Graham used a dominant second-half performance to write the final chapter of Gatesville’s storybook season.
5. Heights girls’ record basketball season
With a starting lineup chock-full of college-bound talent — including three Division I prospects in senior Eboniey Jeter, juniors JaQuan Jackson and Brianna Freeman, and a pair of four-year starters in Shanice Davis (McLennan Community College) and Brianna Golden (Temple College) — the Lady Knights put together a season for the ages. Winning their first 29 straight games, advancing deep into January before suffering a jarring district loss at Temple, Heights carried on to rack up a school-record 35 wins (35-2) and secure the program’s first district title (11-1 in 12-5A) en route to a second straight regional quarterfinal appearance.
After graduating so much talent, the Lady Knights haven’t been able to repeat that success, entering the holiday break under .500 (6-8 overall, 1-2 in District 8-5A).
6. Brandon Joiner paroled
Brandon Joiner, a former Shoemaker defensive line standout, was sentenced to three years in prison for a 2007 robbery that got him kicked off the Texas A&M football team.
Joiner was paroled in mid-November after serving six months of his sentence, but is still awaiting release.
7. Starting QBs
Two of three former Central Texas quarterbacks made Division I college starts this season.
Former Belton QB David Ash started 11 of 12 games this season at Texas and threw for 2,699 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Starting five of Kansas’ final six games of the season, former Killeen QB Michael Cummings threw for 456 yards and three touchdowns.
Former Shoemaker QB Jameill Showers was the front-runner to guide Texas A&M’s offense in its first season in the SEC, but weeks before the Aggies’ season-opener, first-year A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin announced redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel had earned the job. Manziel went on to become the first freshman Heisman Trophy winner.
8. UMHB football’s run to semis
Mary Hardin-Baylor finally beat Wesley College. But it was not enough to clinch a national championship.
En route to an undefeated regular season, the Crusaders beat their longtime postseason roadblock, upsetting the Wolverines on their home field in Delaware. Then, in the playoffs, UMHB (13-1) eliminated Wesley to advance to the NCAA Division III semifinals, but the Crusaders’ run ended there as No. 1 Mount Union overcame a 28-14 deficit to win 48-35 before claiming its 11th national championship.
9. Track gold
Tired of silver, former Ellison distance runner Hector Hernandez capped a dominating senior campaign to win gold in the 800-meter run (personal-best time of 1 minute, 49.33 seconds) at the Class 5A UIL State Track and Field Championships on May 12. Of course, the current Texas A&M runner wasn’t alone atop the state medal stand.
Killeen sophomore John Warren leapt a personal-best 48 feet, 10¾ inches to take gold in the triple jump at the 4A state meet while a pair of throwers, Shoemaker’s Cion Hicks and Belton’s Levi Jordan, took silver.
Hicks, who’s committed to Baylor, set the Region II-5A discus record (170 feet) before finishing behind phenom Shelbi Vaughan of Mansfield Legacy in both the shot put (43-10¾) and discus (160-10) at the 5A state meet.
10. KISD all together in 8-5A
In its biennial reclassification and realignment, the University Interscholastic League in February moved Killeen High School up to Class 5A for the first time since 2001.
Killeen joined Killeen ISD’s three other high schools — Ellison, Harker Heights, Shoemaker — as well as Belton, Copperas Cove, Temple and Waco Midway in District 8-5A, a true Central Texas 5A district.