It's that time of the year: when I pick, what I believe to be, North Okaloosa's top 10 sports stories.


It's that time of the year: when I pick, what I believe to be, North Okaloosa's top 10 sports stories.



I wish I could say I pulled together a top advisory committee of local sports experts, but I can't.



I'm sure many of you would have a different list of stories, and I welcome your opinions.



1.Crestview football team ends losing streak to Niceville



On Nov. 1, Crestview High School's football team beat rival Niceville 17-12. It was the Bulldogs' first win over the Eagles since 1982. And it was the only regular-season loss for Niceville, which advanced to the Class 7A state championship game.



2. Baker football wins district title



The Gators won their last district championship in 2001. But D.J. Thomas' strong running and a relentless defense powered the team to a perfect 10-0 regular season that included wins over District 1-1A foes Freeport, Jay and defending state champion Northview.



3. Kevin Pettis tenure comes to abrupt end



Kevin Pettis spoke of state championships and the rings that go with them when he was hired as Crestview High School's head football coach and athletic director in 2011.



Pettis arrived in Crestview with a reputation of building championship caliber programs. He left Crestview under a cloud of controversy, having won just eight games in two seasons, to take Sebastian River High School's head coaching job.



4.Tim Hatten named Bulldog football coach and athletic director



Less than five weeks after Pettis' departure, Tim Hatten was selected from more than 90 applicants to be the new top Bulldog.



Hatten arrived in Crestview from Pearl River Community College in Mississippi, whose team he led to the 2004 Junior College National Championship.



Hatten led the Bulldogs to a 5-5 season in 2013 and the upset win over Niceville.



5. Haley Wagner wins Taylor Haugen Trophy



2013 Baker School graduate Haley Wagner was named the recipient of the prestigious award based on her Christian faith, community service and academic and athletic excellence.



The trophy, which the Taylor Haugen Foundation presents in conjunction with the All Sports Association, commemorates Taylor Haugen, a junior varsity football player who died in 2008 after a pre-season game injury.



6. D.J. Thomas comes up big



As a junior in 2012, Baker running back D.J. Thomas rushed for more than 1,000 yards and 17 touchdowns, setting the stage for a remarkable senior season. Thomas finished the year with 2,134 yards rushing and 31 touchdowns to lead the area in both categories.



7. Baker volleyball team keeps rolling



Baker School's volleyball team advanced to the state final four for the third straight season. The Gators also won their 11 consecutive district championship.



8. Big year for local volleyball



The Gators weren't the lone local volleyball team to enjoy a stellar season. Laurel Hill and Crestview also advanced to the playoffs. For the first time in recent memory, all three local teams made the playoffs in the same year.



The Hoboes advanced to the playoffs by winning the District 1-1A championship, and Crestview qualified as the District 1-7A runner up.



9. Crestview baseball team shines



A talented Crestview baseball team lived up to its billing by capturing the District 2-6A championship with an upset win over Mosley.



The Bulldogs beat Tate in the first round of the playoffs, but ran out of magic in the region semifinals losing to Mosley.



10.  Baker's Donley dances with Liberty



Chad Donley, a 2010 Baker School graduate and former Gator basketball player, saw action for Liberty University in the NCAA basketball tournament's first round.



Donley purportedly is the first former Gator to play in the tournament. He also is the first player from North Okaloosa County to appear in the tournament since former Crestview star Tom Hammonds played in the tournament for Georgia Tech from 1986-1989.



Honorable mention



It's almost impossible to condense 12 months of sports into a list of the top 10 stories.



These stories came up just short of the cut and, in other years, might have made the list:



•  Crestview football players Micah Reed and Tyler Henderson sign Division I scholarships. Reed signed with Central Florida and Henderson with Florida Atlantic.



• Former Crestview High School softball player Hannah Day signs with Troy University.



•  Baker baseball team wins Justin Richards Tournament.



• Former Crestview softball player Hannah Day has big year for Northwest Florida State.



•Crestview football player Denzel Ware commits to the University of Kentucky.



• Greg Watson is named Crestview boys basketball coach.



• Scott Johnson steps down after one year as Baker baseball coach and is replaced by Adam Henry.



• Former Laurel Hill basketball player Brad Reese has big season playing basketball in Europe.



Email News Bulletin Sports Editor Randy Dickson, follow him on Twitter or call 850-682-6524.