Coach Smith enters his 7th season as the Head Soccer coach at Poplarville High School. He has coached the boy’s team for 6 years and has guided the Lady Hornets the past two seasons. Coach Smith is very excited about the core group that returns for both squads.
The 2016-17 Lady Hornets will be led by Senior Forward/Midfielder Merisa Myrick and Senior Goalkeeper Kaitlyn Barber. Some other key returning starters from last year’s playoff team are: Senior-Jasy Lee; Junior(s)- Amber Smith, Gracie Smith, Lexey Breerwood and Ali Glasscock; Sophomore(s)- Candi Spiers, Hannah McClendon and Karlee Price; Freshman- Star Newson and Eighth Grader Julianna Wells. “We are very fortunate to have only had one player graduate last year. Granted that player was a big key in the success that we had last year. But I feel we will be more experienced this year going into the regular season. We have set high expectations on this group and they are responding well. As any team, if they stay healthy and keep a level head on their shoulders they should be able to do some great things this season”, says Coach Smith. The team will have some very solid players that will come off the bench and help contribute to any success had this coming season. The girls are competing daily to earn playing time as well as getting each other better. The girl’s team could be one, if not the best team that has come through Poplarville. Coach Smith looks for them to make a deep run into the playoffs, “I have told them many times they will be the team to beat in the district and if they want to be the team with a bullseye on their back, they must compete each day at practice. They will no longer be the team that everyone overlooks in the District or in South 4A”.
On the boys side, the Hornets are coming off injury after injury during the 2015-16 campaign. The Hornets were not able to stay healthy and saw multiple starters go down throughout the season. Coach Smith goes on to say, “Last year was a tough season for injuries, but with all the injuries many players had to step up and got a lot of quality playing experience. If anything positive came out of last season with the injuries, it was that this year we will have a good core group returning that saw a lot of game action last season”. The Hornets will be led by Senior(s)- Ethan McIntyre, Josh Davis, Turan Smith, Austin Carter and Nick Kirshbaum. Other returning players that will contribute to the success the Hornets have this season are : Senior Evan Smith, Junior(s)- Mason Nodurft, Chris Fowler and Jayden Shaw, Sophomore(s)- Bradley Stines, Cade Johnson, Austin Ashley, Cameron Hodge, Chris Hughes and Tres Ray and Eighth grader Maddux Francis.
We will have to have Maddux Francis along with some other underclassmen step up early in the season as we anticipate our football team making a deep run into the playoffs. With the two seasons overlapping we will be without some key starters. Turan Smith, Austin Carter, Nick Kirschbaum, Evan Smith, and Chris Fowler are all football players that will play a role in the success we have on the soccer field this season.
The Hornets are a year removed from making it to the 2nd round of the state playoffs. Coach Smith says, “As mentioned before, if this group stays healthy this could be a special year once again on the boy’s side. We have some very good athletes and soccer players and with a mix of kids like that you can do some special things. At the start of the season, some players will get much needed game action. Those players will be a factor for us as the season progresses into January. We need a few players to step-up into a quality leadership role and lead by example and this group has the potential to make another run into the playoffs.”
For both teams there will always be a player or two step-up big and become a quality asset to the team that was not mentioned. Every year we have a kid that just continues to get better and works hard and finds themselves in the playing rotation.
I am looking forward to the season, which is 10 weeks away. The first game is a Jamboree on October 29th at Laurel against Laurel and Quitman.