By Thomas Sellers Jr.
As the school day let out April 13, storm clouds unleashed rain upon Shelby County including Millington’s Centennial Park.
But the rainy conditions subsided for just in time for the 5 p.m. scheduled start of the District 14-3A showdown between the host Millington Trojans and visiting Arlington Tigers.
The Tigers have dominated the district in recent years. The Trojans were ready to take on the challenge of playing one of the best programs in the area taking a 1-0 lead before halftime.
“We’ll go back to 2006, when I was the assistant,” Millington Head Coach Larry Dagen recalled of the last Trojan victory over Arlington. “And we had that loaded team that won the district. We beat Arlington 2-1 on our football field. I’ll never forget it. The now principal Clint Durley was our coach.”
The game almost 10 years ago had a festive conclusion with Millington’s Mark Medina making a kick save in front of his goal when his goalie slipped out of position. That night ended with both team arguing leaving the field.
The April 13 match up concluded with some hostility and a cloud of controversy when officials called the game during halftime in favor of the Trojans 1-0.
“Basically what transpired was we started and it was raining,” Dagen recalled. “It wasn’t raining real hard. As we proceeded in the game we only had the two assistant referees because the center (judge) wasn’t there. They wanted to start on time. So I said, ‘Let’s go.’ And we started on time.
“We got 12 to 15 minutes into the game and the center judge showed up,” he added. “At that point, he interjected himself into the game and we continued to play the entire game. And yes, it rain hard during that game. Then it stopped completely. Before the half finished, we scored.”
When the center judge gathered both Dagen and Arlington Head Coach Zeke Vezina to inform them of his decision to stop the game, Dagen was passionate about continuing the contest until a full 80 minutes.
“Soccer is an interesting sport because it is played under these types of conditions,” he noted. “The only thing that stops us is when safety is an issue or lightning, that type of weather. Rain, man, I’ve played in some tyrannical downpours. We played under those conditions for 40 minutes.”
Once a soccer game has gone to halftime, it is eligible to become an official result. When Trojan Ethan Dupree placed the ball down the middle of the field, his senior teammate Carlos Lipsey applied a self-touch pass toward the goal and blasted the soccer ball past the goalie for the eventual game-winning goal.
“I would love to play them on a dry field,” Dagen said. “And we’ll probably get that opportunity once we get into the districts. There’s a chance we’ll end up matching up with them. I would love to do that and we can settle it once and for all.”
When Dagen woke up the next morning he was informed that April 13 contest wasn’t settled.
“What a great competitor and he’s a great coach,” Dagen said of Vezina. “His kids have always done extremely well. I did get communication from Zeke that he’s approaching the proper channels trying to find out if there’s anything that can be done about it. And I don’t blame him. If I was in the same situation, I would do it as well because it does have seeding implications.”
If the victory stands for Millington, the Trojans can move up in the District 14-3A standings toward a top seed. And Dagen said the 2015 Trojans have put themselves in a position to something that hasn’t been done since 2006 when Millington reached Sub-State.
“This is a great bunch of kids and I enjoy them,” he concluded. “They seem to raise up to the occasion. I told them, ‘This is your chance to rise up to the opportunity and put a hurting on a team who has been putting a hurting on you.’”