By TOM WILLIAMS
Ocean City High School won the Ed Byrnes Memorial All-Sports Award for the virus-shortened 2019-20 school year. It marked the ninth straight year that OCHS has either won or shared the award and the 18th time in the award’s 30 years.
Ocean City got off to a great start in the fall with a state championship in girls soccer, additional South Jersey titles in boys and girls cross country and four conference championships. The Raiders added a South Jersey title and conference co-championship in girls basketball. Mainland, which has won or shared the award seven times, finished second and St. Augustine, a five-time winner, was third despite having no girls sports.
This year’s award includes no points for spring sports since the season was cancelled because of the COVID-19 virus. It is likely that spring sports would have added to the scores of all three of the top programs.
The all-sports award was created by Prime Events and Schoppy Inc. in 1991. It was renamed in memory of Byrnes, the longtime athletics director and football coach at Holy Spirit, after he died in February, 1996. Byrnes was president of the CAL for six years and had just won his 100th football victory three months before his death.
The system used to determine a school’s final score in the competition awards points for championships won – both CAL and NJSIAA – with bonuses for the number of different sports in which they were won. Under this system, which rewards a sports program’s versatility, a school that wins one championship in each of two different sports will get a higher score than if it won two championships in the same sport. Only sports in which the CAL crowns a champion are considered.
Among 2019-20 highlights:
- Ocean City has been first or tied for first in Cape May County in 22 of the last 23 years.
- St. Augustine had won Atlantic County eight times in the previous 14 years before Mainland won the last three years.
- Middle Township has been best or tied for best in the Coast Big Five for nine of the last 10 years.
- St. Augustine had the highest score in boys sports for the 19th time in the last 22 years.
- Ocean City was first in girls sports for the 10th straight year and 21st time in the award’s 30 years.
- In the seven years since Sacred Heart has closed, Millville has had the highest score in Cumberland County six times.