SEE ALSO: Final High School Rankings
When Todd Boyer first started with the Shawnee (Okla.) High baseball program it was as an assistant coach.
He watched as the Wolves began to form a baseball dynasty that would make the Oklahoma state tournament in 18 of the last 21 years.
In 2007, Boyer became the head coach of the program and continued that tradition of success.
Before the 2017 season began, Boyer had led the Wolves to a 236-130 record in his 10 years at the helm. He didn't know it at the time, but it would be his final year as Shawnee's head coach. And he would leave the program at an elite level—and with a season that he would never forget.
Led by senior catcher Jake Taylor—a future Oklahoma State player who was drafted in the 25th round by the Braves—Shawnee won 40 straight games this spring, en route to winning a third straight Oklahoma 5A state championship and the 2017 Baseball America Team of the Year award.
"What an incredible, great group of kids," Boyer said. "The thing is, this group of seniors won three state championships on the field. But they also won two academic state championships—what a well-rounded group.
"They've got good heads on their shoulders and are an extremely hard working group. And I couldn't be any prouder of any group that's come through."
Boyer has seen a lot of groups come through.
Since taking over as the head coach of Shawnee's program more than a decade ago, the Wolves missed the state tournament just three times.
And for the senior class, which includes Taylor and fellow four-year starters Tanner Sparks, A.J. Barron and Eli Davis as well as three-year starter Cole Payne, all they know is success. Each player has made the state tournament all four seasons of their high school careers, and each has won the 5A championship the last three years.
The group won 52-straight games, dating back to the championship season in 2016.
"What a legacy they've left," Boyer said. "I think what they've left for their teammates is they've had a great work ethic. And, you know, they were talented, but they were our hardest workers as well. They were the guys who were the first ones here and the last ones to leave, and they would work with our younger kids on some little things.
"That's what separates good teams from great teams, doing all the little things right. This group paid attention to the details. So I think just the work ethic, and what it takes to be a great player, they've instilled that in some of our younger players."
That starts with Taylor, who hit .519/.594/.938 with nine home runs and 22 doubles. He was the rock of the team.
"He's got a good head on his shoulders," Boyer said. "He knows what it's all about . . .
"A quick story on Jake. One of our former players—Pat Presley—came through. He started for us for four years at shortstop. He has some young children now, around 10-12 years of age. Towards the end of the year we finished a ball game, and they came in the dugout after our game was over and asked Jake, 'Would you please sign our hats.' And Jake said, 'I'll tell you what, I'll sign your stuff, but first you have to sign mine.'
"He'd have every right to have a big ego, but he has none whatsoever. He's just an unbelievable player."
In addition to Taylor and Sparks, who led Shawnee with 12 home runs, the Wolves got a tremendous season out of junior Kade Self, who led the team in both slugging (.947) and on-base percentage (.629), while walking 34 times and striking out just 13.
For the season, Shawnee outscored their opponents 495-117, including a 12-7 win against Claremore (Okla.) High in the championship game.
"I just feel very blessed," Boyer said. "What a great opportunity for me to coach a great group of kids. I'm very, very proud of this group. It's just hard to put into words."
After the season, Boyer walked away from his head coaching job and took over as Shawnee's athletic director, where he'll have the opportunity to impact many more student-athletes. He'll miss the relationships with his players, and the coaches he's become friends with, but Boyer is leaving behind a legitimate high school dynasty. And what could be better than that?
"(My wife and I) sat down and talked a lot about it, prayed about it," Boyer said. "We just felt like it couldn't be better timing. You win three straight championships, you win 40 in a row to end the year.
"That's the storybook ending."
|Team Of The Year|
|1992||Westminster Christian HS, Miami|
|1993||Greenway HS, Phoenix|
|1994||Sarasota (Fla.) HS|
|1995||Germantown (Tenn.) HS|
|1996||Westminster Christian HS, Miami|
|1997||Jesuit HS, Tampa|
|1998||Vestavia Hills (Ala.) HS|
|1999||Lassiter HS, Marietta, Ga.|
|2000||Gloucester Catholic HS, Gloucester City, N.J.|
|2001||Seminole (Fla.) HS|
|2002||Elkins HS, Missouri City, Texas|
|2003||Chatsworth (Calif.) HS|
|2004||Chatsworth (Calif.) HS|
|2005||Russell County HS, Seale, Ala.|
|2006||The Woodlands (Texas) HS|
|2007||Wilson HS, Long Beach, Calif.|
|2008||American Heritage HS, Plantation, Fla.|
|2009||Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas|
|2010||Flanagan HS, Pembroke Pines, Fla.|
|2011||Archbiship McCarthy HS, Southwest Ranches, Fla.|
|2012||Parkview HS, Lilburn, Ga.|
|2013||Harvard-Westlake HS, Studio City, Calif.|
|2014||Barbe HS, Lake Charles, La.|
|2015||Parkview HS, Lilburn, Ga.|
|2016||Stoneman Douglas HS, Parkland, Fla.|
|2017||Shawnee (Okla.) HS|