By R. Alan Richardson sports editor
Spring sports are just around the corner with boys’ soccer kicking off this week under the direction of second year head coach Aaron Paul. The UGA graduate was 5-7-1 in his inaugural season in 2015, but has high hopes for this year’s team. Paul talked about the upcoming season, “We were 2-4 in the region last year with some tough losses to final four Oconee losing 3-1, Jackson County, East Jackson, and Jefferson who were the top four teams in 8-AAA. Even though we lost seven seniors and our great keeper, Matthew Cantero, we have a lot of returning sophomores and juniors that either started for us or got lots of quality minutes. I think it bodes well for us with the likes of Luke Biscoglia, Evan Watkins, and Carter Atchison returning as key players.” The Dogs didn’t make the playoffs a year ago, but hope to improve on that this year. Paul said, “We are trying to close the gap even more between ourselves and our opposition. The games where we went in with a chip on our shoulder were actually when we played our best. We want to compete in the region and for a region championship. That’s our goal. If we do all the little things right, it should set us up well for the playoffs. We have talented players but we have got to bring things together to compete at the state level.”
Morgan, according to Paul, lost a few late region games to Elbert and East Jackson that could have made a big difference in their season. He commented, “We can’t beat ourselves and need to play mistake free to win the region championship. Everything we are doing now is in preparation for the region schedule and setting us up for the state playoffs, but we have to put it all together at the right time. The chemistry of this team on and off the field as well as the comradery is better.”
The girls also are looking to improve in region play having graduated only three seniors from a year ago. The Lady Dogs had a successful season going 9-5, finishing third in 8-AAA, and making it to the first round of the state tournament before being ousted by Dawson County. Head Coach Anne Stamps is in her 14th year at Morgan having coached basketball, softball, track, and now soccer. This is her third season at the helm of the program and is very positive about the 2016 team. “Our two senior captatins, Susanna Peppers, and Anslyn Stamps, return along with several other four-year starters that include Erin Miller, Madison Evans, and Lacy Campbell. I was also able to “recruit” Alisha Frierson to come out and play,” she said.
Morgan returns the core of last year’s squad. Stamps commented, “On paper this could be the best soccer team the Lady Dogs’ soccer program has put on the field. We have a strong freshman class with several who I expect to be impact players on the varsity. Our goal this season is to finish in the top two in the region so we can host a first round state tournament match. Most likely, we’ll have to go through Oconee and Jefferson to make that happen.” Coach Kerri Powell is also in her third year as an assistant with the program. Stamps said, “She gives me a lot of help and does a great job.” The Dogs played their first game on Tuesday and go back to the pitch on February 22nd with North Oconee in their home opener