Deep playoff runs often require a little bit of luck and good timing sprinkled into the equation, but with the right ingredients a team can make qualifying for the playoffs look easy.
That is exactly what Mansfield did last year.
The Hornets received the Globe’s Dalton Division 1 Award for an outstanding 2010-11 athletic year in which Mansfield’s teams combined for a 247-83-13 regular-season record.
Mansfield teams made the postseason tournament in every sport except tennis. The award was one of nine the Globe handed out in the 39th year of the its Scholastic Awards. The awards rank schools based on their win-loss percentage.
“It was just a magical year last year,’’ said athletic director Joseph Russo, whose school won 73.9 percent of its contests to edge second-place Lincoln-Sudbury (73.2). “We just got on runs and the kids played very well.’’
“It’s almost freaky what happened last year,’’ said Mansfield alumnus and three-sport athlete Theresa DeGirolamo, who has coached field hockey for nearly two decades. “Last year really the whole school had a little bit of, athletically, we had the Midas touch.’’
The football team - which went 10-1 and steamrolled Walpole in the playoffs before erasing a 19-point deficit in a dramatic second half against Reading to win the Division 2 Super Bowl - helped to fire up Hornets fans and spark the belief among other teams that nothing was ever out of reach.
“There was just great electricity and a positive atmosphere in the school last year, starting with football and that ridiculous, outstanding Super Bowl come-from-behind win,’’ said DeGirolamo, who coached her own squad to a Hockomock title with a 13-1-4 record. “It was really engaging for all, not only student-athletes, but other students.’’
It only got better for Mansfield as the holidays approached and the snow began to fall. With the community behind it, the school ripped through its winter schedule, only losing 10 games combined in all of the sports.
“It was unbelievable,’’ Russo said. “It was just a great, kind of magical year for everybody.
“We had senior athletes that finished their football career at Gillette, and finished their basketball career at the Garden, and then some of them went on to track to finish in the states in the arena at Reggie Lewis [Athletic Center] . . . they got to play in a lot of big venues so it was really a successful year.’’
Russo has no shortage of praise for the youth programs in Mansfield and the people that run them, and the coaches that lead these players year in and year out, some in multiple sports. But in the end it was the players who took to the field, court, ice, or track and got the victories with their hard work and dedication.
“It’s constant with kids in the weight room, and in the gym and on the track . . . they just like to train and hang out,’’ Russo said. “They all wanted to be part of something special.’’
Mansfield wasn’t the only school that had an outstanding year.
Ames Division 2 - North Andover makes it three straight titles with a success rate of almost 75 percent. The Knights can thank the boys, who went 159-37-9, led by their baseball (19-1) and wrestling (28-0-1) teams. Top girls’ teams included basketball (16-4) and gymnastics (8-1). Reading was close behind at 72 percent.
Dalton Division 3 - Medfield was the most successful school in the top four divisions, winning 77.2 percent of its games. For Medfield, it was the second straight scholastic award, and sixth overall. The Warriors were led by their girls’ programs, which finished 149-34-10. The tennis and volleyball teams both finished 20-0, and basketball went 19-1. Hopkinton was second at 72.01 percent.
Ames Division 4 - In the closest race in the nine divisions, Norwell won with a win-loss percentage of 66.20 to second-place Cohasett’s 66.13. Norwell’s boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams went a combined 16-0.
Nason Division 1 - With a record 16 schools reporting, Madison Park won its first Scholastic Award since 2003, recording a win-loss percentage of 63.79. Leading the way for the Cardinals was the football team that went 8-1, the boys’ soccer team (14-0-2), and girls’ soccer (12-2). Brighton was close behind in second at 62.89 percent.
Nason Division 2 - St. John’s Prep continued its top-to-bottom dominance of the Catholic Conference, winning its division for the 15th year in a row. The tennis (17-1) and basketball (19-1) teams led the way. BC High was second.
Singelais Division - Notre Dame of Hingham, led by its dominating state championship golf team (18-0), won its sixth straight Singelais title. Eleven of the school’s 14 athletic teams finished .500 or better.
Nason Division 3 - Bishop Feehan won its 14th straight title, a run that centers around the Attleboro school’s impressive runners. The cross-country and track teams combined to go 42-3. Bishop Feehan won 74.51 percent of its contests, with Cardinal Spellman second at 72.61.
Markham Division - Shawsheen continued its domination of the vocational category, winning 70.28 percent of its games to earn the Billerica school its fifth straight Markham award. The Rams were led by their cross-country teams, which combined to go 18-1, and its football team that went 9-1 and won a Super Bowl title. Greater Lowell was second, winning 65.29 percent of its games.