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Cameron Smith

The Best of 2010: The 10 most unique stories

Prep Rally

Some are inspiring. Some are crushing. Some make you question what's wrong with sports in general. Yet no matter how these 10 stories affect you, they left an indelible mark on the prep sports psyche in 2010.

• 10) Homecoming queens also excel on the football field

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It would be enough if there was a single homecoming queen who also had a good placekicking game on the night she was crowned. This year, there were two ... in the same week.

• 9) The rise of Facebook curfews and social network smack talk

The rise of social networks have brought a melange of new issues, and prep sports are right among those. This year, the specter of verbal hatred flying back and forth across Facebook pages was raised by a Philadelphia coach, who banned his players from using the site the night before a game. The only question is whether that move eventually looks like a one-off Machiavellian decision, or a harbinger of things to come.

• 8) Female placekicker sets new national record ... or did she?

First, Alana Gaither was told she had set a new national mark for longest field goal by a female player. Then, days after the mark had been endorsed by the National Federation of State High School Associations, we here at Prep Rally had to bring a cold blanket on the mark, proving that a field goal had actually been hit from farther out by Heidi Garrett in California years before.

• 7) California coach wins huge game days after cancer surgery

To call Santa Margarita coach Harry Welch an ironman is a bit of an understatement. Just days after the coaching legend had prostate surgery, the longtime Golden State football coach returned to lead his team to a huge win against Orange Lutheran.

• 6) Washington refs threatened with fines, suspensions for using charity pink whistles

To call the Washington Officials Association's initial response to a heartfelt attempt at charity by Seattle-area football referees insensitive is an enormous understatement. The group not only told the referees not to use the whistles, it then threatened to suspend any officials who ignored that advice, a move which would have cost them badly needed game checks.

• 5) Michigan football program finds touching way to personalize breast cancer

Plenty of teams and organizations hold breast cancer fundraisers. Few, if any, are as personal as the one held by the Romeo football team, which not only raises money for the Susan G. Komen foundation, but also reaches out to make personal bonds to cancer survivors from throughout the community.

• 4) L.A. program put on probation for using illegal uniforms ... which were donated by Nike

The most galling part of the year-long probation handed down to the Los Angeles Roosevelt football program wasn't the ban itself, or the CIF's decision to act swiftly to punish a program that has stepped just outside a minor part of the Southern Section's legal code. Rather, it was that no one from Roosevelt or Nike did the due-diligence to learn that all-black uniforms would violate that code in the first place. Not wanting to give up the brand new Nike Combat duds -- which were worth more than $25,000 -- was an understandable response from Roosevelt officials, though it would have felt a lot more defensible if they'd known the jerseys and pants had them headed for trouble in the first place.

• 3) Connecticut cheerleaders want longer uniforms

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Usually, cheerleaders are fighting for the right to bare more skin. Not in Bridgeport, where a group of cheerleaders at Bridgeport Central had to complain to the school board about uniforms which they criticized as "too skimpy."

• 2) The saga of Coy Sheppard's pink cleats

To wear pink in October was to be both conscientious and en vogue. That wasn't true in Mississippi, where placekicker Coy Sheppard was kicked off his Mendenhall team for refusing to take off a pair of pink cleats given to him by his breast cancer-survivor grandmother. Then, just when it looked like Mendenhall coach Chris Peterson was ready to play nice -- announcing he would let Sheppard back on the team so long as the pink cleats came off -- Peterson backed off his commitment, leading to the resumption of what could be a nasty -- and absurd -- lawsuit.

• 1) Ike Ditzenberger's touchdown run to glory

Washington's favorite football player with Down syndrome has become a regular celebrity after his run to glory, which inspired as many tears as cheers in the stands. Within weeks the diminuitive younger brother of Snohomish players had been interviewed by Dateline, landed a date with the prom queen and led the town's homecoming parade. If that isn't a good year, we don't know what is.

There were plenty of other stories that could be added to this list, and probably should. What did we miss? Let us know. We're all ears, as always.

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