By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The sun was finally out and Millington Trojan Soccer Head Coach Larry Dagen finally had a chance to paint the line onto his team’s new field.
With Assistant Coach Andy Dupree by his side, the men pulled out the tape measure and portable painter to dress up the green turf of USA Stadium. Just minutes from opening up the 2016 season against Ripley, Dagen took a moment to reflect on the rainy preseason, moving to District 15-2A and the path for his 11 seniors reaching this final campaign.
“We’re in a new district,” he said. “There are 13 teams in this district so they spread us out into two leagues. We’ll be in the West. We have a real good chance of coming out of it on top.
“We’ve got a lot of new faces but a lot of seniors,” Dagen added. “Hopefully that will bring it all together. We plan on having a great year.”
Seniors like Hunter Beckham, Ethan Dupree, Jake Hawkins and Cesar Mireles will be just some of the leaders for the 2016 Trojans. It will take a team effort to outlast the likes of Haywood, Covington, Madison, Liberty and Ripley.
“They have been starting together for a long time,” Dagen noted of his seniors. “Coming into this season I knew we would start interjecting some of the young guys into the rotation.”
Once Ripley arrived to the field, the field was regulation size and ready for the youthful Trojans to get accumulated to the lineup.
“We’ve got three freshman this year Alexander Abraham, Kyle Strange and Matthew Noles might start at a right defensive back,” Dagen said. “Antonio Roddy is a transfer from Raleigh. He’s been home-schooled. This will be his first year in public school. He’s a sleeper. He had a battery that just won’t stop. We can’t wait until we get him back onto the field.”
Roddy and senior Austin Smith were sidelined with injuries. But the duo watched Millington jump ahead 1-0 in the first half courtesy of a Miguel Roque goal.
The Ripley Tigers were hanging around throughout the first half. Then the Trojans’ ball possession seemed to tire out Ripley.
That was Dupree’s cue to take over the game. After several minutes of shaking and baking Tiger defenders, Dupree’s dribbling started to produce goals.
Dupree scored his first of three goals early in the second half to make the score 2-0.
Millington went ahead 3-0 when Hawkins blasted a goal from 25 yards out into the back of the net.
Dupree put the game away later in the second half with a pair of goal for the hat trick.
Dagen noted it was the passing that helped Millington earn the opening day victory 5-0. It will be the fundamentals that Dagen emphasizes throughout the rest of March.
“As we go through March, the thing I want to see is the fundamentals,” he concluded. “I want to see the passing and I want to see the touch. I want to see all the things we’ve worked on everyday. We spend three quarters of our practices working on touch. Our guys can’t touch the ball enough. That’s what we’re working on — procession. We want to see touch.”