LOUDON — Scott High made no secret of its desire to rematch top-seeded Loudon in Tuesday’s District 5-AA semifinals. But the game didn’t go as the Highlanders hoped.
Scott, which out-played Loudon in the second half of the teams’ regular season meeting before ultimately losing by a 4-1 final, saw the Redskins jump out to a 5-0 lead in Tuesday’s rematch. Then the wheels came off in the second half, as the Redskins scored two goals in the first two minutes after intermission and ultimately scoring a 9-0 mercy rule decision.
Loudon, which dominated possession and shots-on-goal, seemed to have a point to make. The Redskins never let up, continuing to play their top offensive weapons even as the goals mounted in an obvious mismatch as the second half began. If the intent was to rub Scott’s face in the defeat, the high school soccer mercy rule prevented that to some extent. If the intent was to reach the mercy-rule score of a 9-goal lead as quickly as possible, the mission was accomplished; the game was called with still 29 minutes left on the clock.
Following the game, Scott High coach Eric Henry tipped his hat to his seniors, while pointing out that he only loses two of them and returns most of his team intact with a lot of young players who saw significant minutes this season.
“I have to give a shout-out to my seniors,” Henry said. “JZ (John Zachary) and Eli (Storey) both played all four years. We were telling stories over there (after the game), JZ came in as a little bitty feller and I didn’t know if he’d ever played soccer before. But he applied himself and worked his way into the starting position. Eli is a good athlete and plays a lot of stuff. Both are good kids. I like both of them.”
Henry said the Highlanders won more games this year than in 2019, the last season before the covid disruption.
“I told the guys, we’ve got a good group coming back,” he said. But, he added, they have to find a desire to compete for championships.
Henry pointed out that one of his former players, Brian Bradley, was on the Scott sideline during Tuesday’s game. Bradley was a member of some of Scott High’s better teams in the past; his class lost only a handful of games in three seasons.
“He asked, ‘Where’s the fire at?'” Henry said. “And I told the guys that’s what we have to find between now and next year — that fire and gumption. Instead of letting teams like Loudon push you off the ball and win, knock them in the dirt and win the ball and turn and go with it.
“Those teams with Brian back in the day, they weren’t great soccer teams but other teams walked off the field they knew they had played a game, and they knew what they were getting when they got to Scott High. It was just blue-collar, hard-nosed, play-hard-as-you-can soccer. And we don’t have that.”
Henry said he has “four or five guys” who don’t shy away from opponents, and said he needs his team to rely more on that type of mentality.
“Toby Garrett wins balls across the middle. He knows he’s not fast but he doesn’t care to mix it up,” he said. “Haiden Blevins played good coming into tonight. Gavin Terry plays hard every game and doesn’t care to mix it up. Nolan Cotton plays good.”
Two of those four players mentioned by Henry are freshmen, while Cotton is a sophomore and Terry is a junior.
Henry also pointed out two more freshmen who played significant minutes up front or in the middle, Skye Babb and Hugo Henry.
“I told Skye, you win balls all across the middle, but we have to turn it on when it gets in the box, too. I fussed at Hugo, too.”
Henry said he had been waiting on this year’s freshman class to get to Scott High and feels they have potential to continue to improve in the future. Also among the freshmen who saw significant varsity minutes this season were Jaden Mays, Andy Blevins and Makhylin Duncan.
That group will be joined next year by returners like sophomore Connor Stanley and juniors Josiah Fladie and Kristian Obrusanszki, each of whom may be the team’s best ball-handlers.
“These young kids have the talent, but there’s one thing I can’t coach and that’s want-to,” Henry said. “I can teach you to shoot, I can teach you to pass, all that stuff, but I can’t teach you to want it. But we’ll start back to work and we’ll get better.”