Photo by Kyle Thornton
Soccer season kicks off Tuesday
By Michael Butler
Momentum. Tallassee had it ending last year's soccer season with four straight wins.
"We finished really strong," said assistant soccer coch Matthew Tarpley, who is running things until coach Keiven Mixson returns from basketball. "Coach Mixson and I challenged the boys to finish on a high note. They did - winning four games in four nights which is really remarkable."
That momentum has spilled over into 2023. The interest in soccer is growing with 65 kids now in the program.
"They've really been working hard," Tarpley added. "We got after it pretty early in October with conditioning and lifting. Coach Mixson had them in the weight room in school. I would run them after school. I can tell you those kids are sick of seeing that boat ramp. It's such a long season. The demand on your body is so great that we've just got to be in shape."
There are two new programs. In addtion to the varsity boys team, a varsity girls and junior varsity team will take the field for the first time.
"We had a record number of kids that were excited about soccer and wanted to be a part of what we're doing. It's catching on here in Tallassee. We're excited about the younger kids that we're going to develop. That bodes well for the future."
As for the experienced players, Tallassee returns three seniors after graduating four last year. Will Blocker, who set the school record for goals in a season, is among them.
"Will set the record with 28 goals. He's back as a senior. He's already signed. He's going to go play soccer at Spring Hill College. Johnathan Wright and Will Tally are also seniors who have been playing for a long time."
Last year's THS team went 9-7-1. Sights this year are on the area championship. The Tigers' area opponents are; Beauregard, Brewbaker Tech, Elmore County and Valley.
Tarpley and Mixson will be aided by Jennifer Crain and Alfonzo Johnson with the girls and JV teams.
Tarpley with players who will make up Tallassee's first girls team
"We've got 23 girls. They're all excited to play, but they've never played before," Tarpley said. "It's highly entertaining. We've got some athletes and athleticism. Learning the skills and intricacies of the game, it's really starting from scratch. They've got great attitudes. They're eager to learn and willing to work."
While the varsity girls schedule will mirror the varsity boys schedule for the most part, Tarpley noted that Tallassee is the only school in the area with a JV program.
"The JV is tricky," he said. "The only schools that field JV boys soccer teams are the big schools with well-established programs. Their schedule is quite difficult. It's a murderer's row. Our JV program is a lot of the kids from Southside, seventh and eighth graders - some ninth graders thrown in. We're going to be younger than everybody else. We're going to take our lumps, but we know that's going to serve us well in the long run."
Tallassee opens the season with a varsity boys game vs. Lee on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 5:30 at J. E. "Hot" O'Brien Stadium.