In their second year as a team, the DeKalb Middle School boys soccer team has won the conference championship.
Coach Justin Nokes said the team went into the tournament season as third seed in the conference, despite a 10-2 season record, but took top honors in the post season with some big upsets. "There are 10 teams in the conference, and some very tough competition. We really caught fire in the tournament, however, and ended up winning the top spot," Nokes told the Review. "That’s as far as we can go in middle school, there is no state tournament."
The coach said that despite the loss of several eighth-grade players, a strong youth soccer program in the county that continues to feed the DMS team great players every year will help keep the Saints on top.
"We had a total of 22 members on the team, and we had 10 eighth-graders. Of course we are going to miss those eighth-graders, but we have twelve returning players who have gained a lot of experience this year, so I’m looking forward to next season," Nokes said. "We have a great youth soccer league. They continuously send us great players, and that really helps. Hopefully we’re helping Coach K (DCHS Coach Dylan Kleparek, by sending him good players for the high school team as well."
The team took the tournament crown despite the odds being stacked against them from the start. "Our first game in the tournament was last Tuesday against Overton County, and we ended up winning that one 6-0," Nokes said. "It was a win-or-you’re-done type game, and our guys really pulled through. The win sent us to Cumberland County, who had beaten us 2-0 earlier in the season. It was a great game, and we ended up winning 3-2 in the final minutes."
The win put the Saints in a position to take the conference title From Avery Trace, a powerhouse squad who had gone undefeated in two seasons. DMS came out on top in a 1-0 nailbiter. "They beat us 5-0 in the regular season. It was like a movie. We were definitely the underdog, but we didn’t quit, and were unafraid. The defense did an amazing job, and a sixth-grader, Alex Colwell, made the winning goal in the final minutes. It was an amazing game, and an amazing season," Nokes concluded.