Inexperienced soccer team learning valuable lessons in 2017
By David Shelton
Bennettsville – While finding it hard to attain any measure of success, an experienced boys’ soccer team at Marlboro County High is pressing forward in their efforts this spring.
Selase Fianu is in his first season as the boys’ coach after spending the last few years developing the girls program at Marlboro County. When he first began working with the girls program, Fianu struggled to find players with any significant soccer experience.
Now, the coach is finding the same issues with the boys’ program.
“In this area, there is not a lot of soccer being played so we basically have kids who know very little about the sport and how to play,” the coach said. “We try to recruit athletes from other sports, like football, and then teach them to play the game. We have so many first-time players and there is much work involved. We play other teams with much more established programs and players who grow up with soccer. It’s very difficult to compete with that.”
Marlboro County has yet to win a game this spring but Fianu is seeing small and steady improvements. The final win tally at the end of this spring may still be zero but the coach is focused on developing talent and character.
“I tell them the most important thing is to play hard, play with effort, and do not be intimidated by the opponent,” Fianu said. “Never be scared is what I tell them. As long as we train hard and play hard we are successful. There are valuable lessons to be learned and we are focused on learning to compete.”
The coach says several players have begun to take on solid leadership roles, among them junior Fred McCray. McCray is an offensive lineman in football and is also throwing the discus for the track team. He recently won a state championship in the state strength meet.
“Fred is a fantastic young man who brings his best every day,” Fianu said. “He says every day he is not very good but he will play hard. He’s a good guy in the back and is showing a lot of progress.”
Hunter Tindall also has made strides as the team’s goal keeper. Football player Will Horne is working in the midfield and has become a better performer through the season.
Junior Marlow Ellerbe and sophomore Alex Lee also rate as two of the better overall players on the team this season.
“My goal is to create more interest and get more of the younger kids involved in playing each year,” Fianu said. “We made some progress with the girls’ program. Getting more players involved is the key. We have to be able to train them and teach them at a younger age. Then we can consider building for a championship.”
McCray wins title at state strength meet
Marlboro County’s Fred McCray led a host of Bulldog football players in the 2017 state strength meet recently. McCray, competing in the 235-pound weight division, captured the state championship with a 520-pound squat and a 340-pound bench press, becoming the school’s first state champion since 2006. McCray is a rising senior center on the football team.
Shamar Sprattling finished third overall in the 260-pound weight class, squatting 585 pounds and bench pressing 275 pounds. Other varsity participants included Eli Blair (330 bench as 189-pounder), Ty Bridges (265 bench at 149-pounds), Ty Hooks, Josh Brown and Robert McNair.
Robert Crosland and Daniel Turner competed in the junior varsity division.
Marlboro County’s track and field athletes have competed in three meets during the month of March and several athletes continue to show improvement.
On the boys’ team, Jameson Blue, Jordan Chaplin and Jerrod Hodges are competing in the sprints. Tramont Miles is running the 800 and Ahmad Knight (1600) and Weston Fagala (3200) are working in the distance events.
Tyrese Quick is the top long jumper. Eli Blair is throwing the shot put and Fred McCray is throwing the discus. The top hurdlers have been Shyheim Alford and Jayvin Douglas.
In girls’ track, Adasia Sellers has been the top sprinter and Alecia Brown is the top 400-meter runner. Cayla Ward works in the 800 and Daisha York runs the hurdles.
Ivory Miles is performing well in the long jump and triple jump while Kashara Maggette is working in the throws.