By R. Alan Richardson
With soccer season opening up this week, we sat down with Coaches Aaron Paul of the boys and Anne Stamps of the girls for a little question-and-answer session about the upcoming season. How did they think their teams would do? Well, no one has a crystal ball, but if past success has anything to do with it, these two seasoned veterans will certainly get the best of the talent they have. That’s a given.
Stamps is in her seventh season at the helm of the girls’ program and is both excited and positive about a number of things. One of the major things is an improvement in the numbers she will be seeing this spring. By that, she means the number of players trying out, making the team, and participating in soccer. She said, “This will be the strongest freshmen class that we’ve had in a few years. There are 10 of them and I will be counting on a few of them to start on the varsity. We have six returning sophomores, so we will have quite a few young players playing big roles for us this year. I am very excited to say that we will have a JV team this year. Our numbers are rising! Our JV girls will play nine games with the opportunity to pick up additional games with the varsity. We also have the eighth graders in the program being able to play up in a few JV games this season to get in some extra games.”
The Lady Dogs went 6-10 in 2019 and it looks like the future is bright for improvement in that performance this year and for years to come. Morgan returns starters senior Brooke Morrison, senior Maddie Mize, senior Laneer Woodham, senior Avery Callaway, and junior Mckenzie Larate. That core has made it a goal to finish in the top two teams in the Region. That’s a lofty goal when considering the talent of Jackson County and Jefferson, but Stamps thinks her girls can get there. “The Jefferson and Jackson games will be huge for Region standings!” She added, “This team will be very fun to watch over the next few years. We have some talented young players in the program in eighth and ninth grade. Preseason practices have been as fun and competitive as I have seen our team have since I have been coaching soccer. I’m truly looking forward to a great season!”
Paul echoed many of the sentiments of Stamps. His team finished last season, 2019, as Region Runner up and the season ended in the first round of the GHSA playoffs. It was the third year in a row they have made the playoffs, and have either won the Region or been runner-up. The sixth-year head coach mentioned his key players and seniors and wanted to say how important they would all be to this year’s success. They are seniors David Newell, Connor Clark, Peyton Hoopengardner, Will Kuperberg, Michael Peters, and Axel Cornelio. Underclassmen Grayson Jarman and Trace Blanton will also be back for another year.
Paul said, “Our goals for 2020 are to improve upon what we did last year and continue to build for the future. The number of kids participating at the JV and varsity levels are where we want and need them to be. Josue Lopez is looking to replace three-year goalkeeper Collin Sitzmann. I am excited to have Christian Keener, and an extremely talented freshmen class with 11 players.”
There will be a few teams in the way of a possible 8-AAA Championship. According to Paul, Jackson County is going to be very competitive along with 2019 Region Champ Jefferson (who Morgan narrowly lost to in overtime for the Region Championship last year). “Jefferson at home on 3-25 will be a big game for us,” said the head coach.
He gave us these final thoughts, “We are looking to maintain our standard of hard work and excellence on and off the field this year. We want to greatly improve our play and records from the year before and I think we will be in a great position to do that. We have the tools necessary to have a successful season. The players have all been really focused during practices and are ready to get on the field and play.” You can see the sports schedule for upcoming contests.