FEATURE: Pike Liberal Arts claims state title ‘triple crown’
Published 10:57 am Friday, May 13, 2022
By BILL RICE, JR.
By winning this week’s baseball state championship, Pike Liberal Arts School of Troy became the first school in the Alabama high school history (AISA or AHSAA) to claim state titles in all three major boys sports in two consecutive academic years.
The Patriots are only the fourth school in Alabama high school history to accomplish the rare “Triple Crown.” Madison Academy is the only team in the larger Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) to win state championships in all three major boys sports in the same academic year (2014-2015).
Abbeville Christian and Edgewood Academy also won state title “triple crowns. The AISA was created in 1970. The feat had never been accomplished until 2015-2016 when both Abbeville Christian (A classification) and Edgewood Academy (AA) of Millbrook accomplished it in the same academic year.
PLAS is the first school in the AISA’s largest athletic classification (AAA) to accomplish this feat, which it has now done in back-to-back academic years.
Pike also pulled off a “four-peat” in baseball as it had won the previous three state titles in the sport. The school very well could have won five consecutive baseball titles; however, the 2020 baseball season was never finished due to COVID (PLAS would have been a prohibitive favorite to win that title). Pike also won state championships in golf and powerlifting during the 2022 season.
Results of Pike’s last six seasons of baseball:
2016 – Lost in semi-final round
2017 – Lost in finals
2018 – State champions
2019 – State champions
2020 – Season cancelled due to COVID 2021 – State champions
2022 – State champions
The AHSAA ‘Triple Crown’ King …
While three schools have won the boys’ “triple crown” in AISA sports, only one school – Madison Academy – has pulled off the feat in the much larger Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA). Madison Academy won state titles in football, basketball and baseball in the
2014-2015 school year.
What’s more amazing is that Madison could have easily done the same thing the year before. In the 2013-2014 school term, Madison Academy won state titles in football and baseball, missing out on the “triple crown” due only to a 43-40 loss to Barbour County in the semi-final round in basketball.
But Madison would have almost certainly been a lock to win that state championship except for terrible injury luck. The 3A Mustangs lost their best two players to injuries before the post-season began. One of those players was sophomore sensation Joshua Langford, a 5-star recruit and recently a starter at Michigan State, and Kerryon Johnson, an excellent basketball player better known as a standout running back for Auburn and recently with the Detroit Lions.
Even more impressive, Madison Academy won at least two state championships for four school years in a row. That is, of the 12 state title trophies awarded by the AHSAA in the school years 2012-2013 through 2015-2016, Madison Academy won 10. The only state titles it didn’t win in this span was basketball in 2014 and baseball in 2013.
Pike’s Trophy Case was bare … and then filled up rapidly ….
From the AISA’s creation in 1970 through 2008 (38 years), Pike Liberal Arts School did not win a single state title in any of the three major boys sports. In the past two academic years alone, the Troy school added eight state titles to its trophy case. (Pike will be joining the AHSAA beginning with this fall’s football season).
The school has now claimed 11 state titles since the 2009-2010 academic year ( four in football, five in baseball, two in basketball) in the three major boys sports. Pike also won state championships in powerlifting and golf this season.
Since 2009-2010, Tuscaloosa Academy had both eight state titles in the sports of football, basketball and baseball. Of Tuscaloosa Academy’s eight state titles in this span, six came in basketball. Pike is the only AAA school to have claimed state titles in all three sports in the last 14 years. Since 2018, Pike has won four baseball state titles, two football titles and two in basketball.
Raise your hand if you don’t have a state championship ring …
…. As of the Spring of 2021 (last year), At least four current or past PLAS student athletes have been members of state championship teams in three different sports. At least 21 current or past PLAS student athletes were members of teams that won state championships in two different sports. Since the academic year of 2017-2018, at least 50 male student athletes from Pike Liberal Arts have played on at least one state championship team.
For context, a typical class at PLAS has between 30 to 40 students, of whom about half would be males. In other words, the vast majority of male students who attended or are still attending the school have been members of at least one state championship sports team.
The king of kings in AISA sports ….
What AISA school dominated the boys sports world more than any other for an extended period of time? Edgewood Academy of Millbrook … by a country mile.
From the academic year of 2009-2010 through 2016-2017 (8 years), Edgewood claimed 14 state titles in the three major boys sports. In football, the school won seven titles in eight years. It also won six state titles in eight years in baseball, as well as one title in basketball.
That is, of the 24 state championship trophies the AISA awarded in these eight academic years, teams from Edgewood won 14 (58.3 percent). If one counts only the sports of football and baseball, Edgewood won 13 of 16 possible state titles from 2009 through 2016.
AISA Boys State Titles by School & Sport – Through Spring 2021
Tuscaloosa Academy – 24 (20 basketball, 3 baseball, 1 football)
Edgewood Academy – 22 (12 baseball, 7 football, 3 basketball)
Glenwood Academy – 20 (14 baseball, 3 football, 3 basketball)
Marengo Academy – 17 (9 football, 7 baseball, 1 basketball)
Morgan Academy – 13 (11 football, 2 basketball)
Hooper Academy – 12 (6 football, 4 basketball, 2 baseball)
Lakeside Academy – 12 (9 basketball, 3 baseball)
Monroe Academy – 12 (10 football, 1 basketball, 1 baseball)
Patrician Academy – 12 (9 football, 3 baseball)
Bessemer Academy – 11 (8 football, 3 basketball)
Pike Liberal Arts – 11 (4 football, 5 baseball, 2 basketball). Note: All 12 Patriot state titles have been won since 2009. Pike also won state championships in golf and powerlifting this season.
AISA Boys State titles since 2009, AAA Classification:
PLAS: 11 (5 in baseball, 4 in football, 2 in basketball) *NOTE: Pike also won state championships in golf and powerlifting in 2022*
Tuscaloosa: 8 (6 in basketball, 1 in football; 1 in baseball)
Gleenwood: 7 (6 in baseball, 1 in basketball)
Bessemer: 6 (4 in football, 2 in basketball)
Monroe: 4 (3 in football, 1 in baseball)
What schools have had the greatest success in the major AISA boys sports for extended periods of time. The following research provides some answers …
Dynasty Runs ….
Edgewood Academy Baseball – 8 state titles in 8 years (2009-16) Tuscaloosa Academy Basketball – 8 state titles in 10 years (1989-98) Edgewood Football – 6 state titles in 6 years (2011-16)
Lakeside School Basketball – 8 state titles in 11 years (1985-1995)
Morgan Academy Football – 9 state titles in 13 years (1989-2001)
Excellence through the decades ….
Only one AISA boys sports program has claimed state titles in the same sport for five consecutive decades – Tuscaloosa Academy basketball. The Knights have won state titles in the 1980s (5), ‘90s (7), 2000s (3), 2010s (4) and 2020s (1).
The Monroe Academy football program has won state titles in four decades: ‘70s (4), ‘80s (1), 2000s (1) and 2010s (4).
Also, the Glenwood Academy baseball program has claimed state titles in four decades: ‘80s (3), ‘90s (3), 2000s (3) and 2010s (5).
Most State Titles by Sport – Through Spring 2021 (except PLAS)
- Morgan Academy – 11
- Monroe Academy – 10
- Patrician – 9
- Bessemer Academy – 8
- Edgewood Academy – 7
- Tuscaloosa Academy – 20
- Lakeside School – 9
- Evangel Christian – 8
- Glenwood Academy – 14
- Edgewood Academy – 12
- Demopolis – 11
- Marengo – 7
- Faith – 5
- Pike Liberal Arts – 5
All research by Bill Rice, Jr. Any errors are his alone and are unintentional. Rice is a freelance journalist in Troy. He can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.