The 2021-22 high school sports year was a great one.

COVID-19 had little impact this time. Teams and athletes created superb memories, for themselves and those of us lucky enough to watch them …

The multi-sport athlete is alive and well: Crean Lutheran’s Jack Fairchild was an outstanding receiver in football, a key reserve on the school’s excellent basketball team and a CIF-SS champion in the 110 hurdles; Edison’s Tyler Hampton was a terrific football receiver, the second-best player on the Chargers’ first league championship boys basketball team and had the county’s fourth-best high-jump clearance at 6-4; Will Burns of Trabuco Hills was the school’s starting quarterback and shortstop and the South Coast League long jump champion; and Foothill’s Austin Overn was an All-Orange County football receiver, a USC-signed baseball center fielder and ran the county’s third-fastest time, a wind-aided 10.45, in the 100 meters.

Trabuco Hills’ Will Burns safely tags home plate as Santa Margarita catcher Blake Balsz can’t quite hold onto the ball during Friday’s CIF-SS Division 1 playoff game between the two teams on May 6, 2022. (Photo by Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

Aliso Niguel’s Kendra Duffey was Orange County girls volleyball player of the year and qualified for the CIF State meet in the high jump.

Mater Dei football had another magical season. The Monarchs went undefeated including wins over Servite in the CIF-SS Division 1 final and Serra of San Mateo in the CIF State Open Division championship game.

The 2022 CIF-SS Division 1 football final will be played at the Rose Bowl on Nov. 25. Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson played in the stadium in the Rose Bowl Game for USC. Will he coach at that stadium this fall?

El Dorado sophomore Isaiah Quintero was the only Orange County athlete to win a CIF State boys wrestling championship, finishing first at 106 pounds. He also was an All-North Hills League running back for the football team.

Servite beat JSerra 2-1 in the CIF-SS Division 1 boys soccer championship to conclude a 21-2-2 season.

Newport Harbor’s girls water polo team scored 40 goals over three playoff matches to win the CIF-SS Division 1 championship.

Mater Dei’s tradition of athletics excellence extended to one of the newer CIF sports, competitive cheer. The Monarchs won the CIF-SS Division 1A cheer championship.

Few teams dominated their sport like Foothill did in girls lacrosse. The Knights went 21-1 (the loss was by one goal) and won the CIF-SS Division 1 title.

Players and coaches for the Foothill girls lacrosse team pose for a group photo after winning the CIF-SS Division 1 championship on Friday, May 13. (Photo by Michael Huntley, Contributor)

It was a good year for public schools in boys basketball. Garden Grove, San Juan Hills and Western won CIF-SS championships. Foothill advanced to the CIF State finals.

Sage Hill was a CIF State girls basketball champion.

Newport Harbor’s boys volleyball team won everything that could be won. The Sailors won the Surf League championship, the CIF-SS Division 1 championship and the CIF SoCal Regional Division I championship with wins over preseason favorite Loyola in the finals of both tournaments, and were named national champions by

Dana Hills senior Jai Dawson was the cross country champion in CIF-SS Division 3 and CIF State Division II. He was the CIF-SS Division 2 champion in the 800 and 1,600 meters and finished second in the 800 at the CIF State meet. He was one of the more driven-to-succeed athletes ever in Orange County sports.

Servite senior Max Thomas broke a 20-year-old county record in the boys 200 meters with his time of 20.68 seconds while winning that event at the CIF-SS Division 3 championships.

Mission Viejo’s softball team outscored its playoff opponents 22-1 en route to winning the CIF-SS Division 2 title.

Los Amigos baseball coach Aaron Pines endured cancer treatments while leading the Lobos to the Garden Grove League championship and a 23-5 record.

Anaheim’s Jillian Albayati greets her teammates after finishing up an inning during the CIF-SS Division 6 championship game against Estancia at Goodwin Field in Fullerton on Saturday, May 21, 2022. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

Anaheim senior Jillian Albayati became the first girl to be a starting pitcher in a CIF-SS championship baseball game.  She went nine innings and drove in the Colonists’ run in a 2-1 extra-innings loss to Estancia in the Division 6 final.

JSerra’s baseball team was 6-9 overall and 1-6 in the Trinity League on March 22. The Lions then went 16-1 and won the CIF-SS Division 1 championship, the most-difficult team championship to win in the Southern Section.

Orange County is good at baseball. All eight county teams in the CIF SoCal Regional playoffs this week won their first-round games.

University’s Conrad Brown won the Ojai tournament’s boys singles championships and helped the Trojans win the CIF-SS Division 1 title.

The CIF-SS office enjoyed a financially profitable school year so it distributed more than $1 million from its surplus to its member schools. CIF-SS commissioner Rob Wigod, chief financial officer Mitch Carty and the other members of the CIF-SS office have the section in a tremendous financial position, not an easy task following the challenges of COVID-19. Wigod said member schools’ efficient management of playoffs and championship games was essential. “Everyone involved played a part in this,” Wigod said.

We have new league alignments for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years. St. Margaret’s will be in the Orange Coast League with Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa, Estancia, Orange, Saddleback and Santa Ana. Sage Hill will be in the Pacific Coast League with Beckman, Irvine, Laguna Hills, Northwood, Portola, University and Woodbridge.

Dana Hills will continue to be a Pacific Coast League team for football only. For football the Pacific Coast group is divided into two leagues, the Pacific Hills and Pacific Valley leagues. Dana Hills is in the Coast View Athletic Association’s Sea View and South Coast leagues for the other sports.

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Laguna Beach and Marina will remain in the Sunset Conference’s Surf and Wave leagues for all sports except for football. Laguna Beach and Marina are in the Golden West Conference that is divided into the Big 4 and Pac 4 leagues for football.

In our coverage of the Orange County Athletic Directors Association’s athletes of the year selections, we missed the North Hills League’s athletes of the year. They are Brady Francis of Esperanza and Candace Rutledge of Brea Olinda.

Summer football activity includes the best 7-on-7 tournament in the county, the Battle at the Beach at Edison High on July 9. It’s an opportunity for teams to improve their passing game and parents to refine their poor behavior. People will get over-excited about the results, forgetting that Mater Dei lost to Santa Margarita in July 2021’s Battle at the Beach final and the Monarchs beat Santa Margarita 56-3 in October 2021’s Trinity League game.