ByR. Alan Richardson
In the history of Morgan County’s soccer program, there has never been a Region Championship won by the boys. That is, until now. This past week Coach Aaron Paul’s team took their first trophy to the house in only his third year leading the program.
If you had a chance to watch this group play this season, there were a number of obvious characteristics you noticed about them. They really didn’t have any superstars, team play and unselfishness were the name of their game, and they were high energy. Great coaching, solid goalie play and overall defense, and skilled in their dribbling and passing were phrases that would have described this group as well.
Nine seniors provided the leadership for the 2017 Dogs. Morgan took down East Jackson 2-1 on senior night to win the title with a senior laden squad that included these soon-to-be graduates: Tristin Sewell, Sam Kuperberg, Harrison Yost, JR Guinn, Akshay Patel, Ravi Patel, Casey O’Neal, Edan Simpson, and Abdul Muqsit.
All of the seniors gave statements about what it meant to win the 8-AAA Championship as a senior. The resounding themes of those remarks were, “Thanks to Coach Paul for putting his heart into it. This was an accumulation of all the hard work and dedication put into soccer our entire lives. It was a really great season. Coach Paul has turned the program around in the last three seasons. It’s a real honor to be a senior and a champion.
Thanks to the coaches and my teammates for pushing me hard. We’ve dreamed about this since we were freshmen. To make this happen our senior year is on a whole nother level. We set our goals high to be in the playoffs and win region and we did just that.”
Here’s what Coach Paul had to say, “Words cannot describe how proud I am of our team and how they have pushed through adversity this year. I set a goal three years ago when Steve Cisson and Dr. Malanowski took a chance on me as a very young coach. I knew this year could be our year, but with the devastating injury to junior captain Nick Seymour at the start of the season I knew that how the team responded would determine our path for this season, and they responded by giving relentless effort in every match. This team has fought extremely hard to accomplish our goal of winning a region title. None of this would be possible without the help of assistant coaches Bo Larkins and Thomas Hughes. I want to thank Coach Bill Malone for the constant support and advice, Dr. Edwards and Doug Connelly for their help and support, and the parents for putting their trust in me. This championship was earned by our guys over the past few years and the seniors deserve it for their hard work over the past four.”
Coach Paul has taken a program that hasn’t produced a lot of noise since its inception and turned it into a winner. We should all be proud of his efforts and determination to put the product on the pitch that he has in such a short period of time. Congratulations and keep up the good work.
The soccer state playoffs begin April 25 and 26. The boys will play at home on one of those two dates. Should they survive the first round, they will continue their run with another home field advantage game on either May 2 or 3.