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Chiefs complete perfect season with state soccer title

The Chiefs are back on top. With a 2-1 win over Decatur, McIntosh High won its ninth state boys soccer championship.

“I wanted this as much or more than any we have won,” said McIntosh coach Bunky Colvin. “We had a group of guys people did not think could do it but were willing to do everything we asked.”

Their path to the title began back during demanding summer training where early mornings and sun-drenched workouts would not deny them. They didn’t just take care of business on the pitch, they also did it in the classroom with five players in the top 19 in the senior class academically.

“They wanted to be the best they could be and got better and better,” said Colvin. “They were fighters with guts and determination, and I love them for it. They deserved to be champions because they earned it day after day.”

On game day, the Chiefs didn’t take long to strike. In the game’s ninth minute, they took advantage of Decatur off a short goal kick.

“Decatur is a well-coached team with many top club players. We knew they would be difficult to beat,” said Colvin. “The key to winning the match was a few details we saw on film. As they built out of the back, we noticed we could press them and believed we could turn them over in a dangerous area. If we could win the ball and get it into the middle, we could hit it quickly to the back post, knowing the goalkeeper would still be on the side.”

Under pressure from Carson Candela, the Bulldogs tried a pass back across the middle of the field. Adan Dollens read it, attacked for the interception, and found the back of the net in one smooth motion before the keeper could even react.

In the 24th minute, Miles Strong took a free kick and launched a laser from 25 yards out for a 2-0 lead.

“Getting an early lead was crucial. The second goal showed all those days of working on set pieces paid off when Miles Strong bent the ball around the wall for the winning goal.”

Decatur gave them a fight in the second half. They put good pressure in the box, and they made it a 2-1 game with 14 minutes to play. They had a chance to tie it up in the waning moments off a well-placed corner kick, but a punch save by Jackson Brubaker with just 10 seconds to play turned them away for good.

“Our defense was an incredible brick wall from our forwards to our midfield and defenders.”

The Chiefs finish the season 23-0 and in position to also be crowned national champions for the third time.

Outsiders gave them little shot of reaching the top after graduating 17 seniors and returning no one who had played for a state championship. They began the season ranked just 8th in the state in the coaches poll.

“Our goal was to train hard to improve our overall ability each week to win the game in front of us,” said Colvin. “Until we ended the regular season, going undefeated was not on the radar, and, truthfully, not even a focus in the playoffs because we had the most challenging possible route to the final.”

Entering the playoffs as the top team in AAAAA, they beat the #8 team in the second round, the #3 team in the quarterfinals, the #4 team in the semifinals, and then #2 in the finals.

“Our path to victory was not easy,” said Colvin, echoing the team’s motto: “Never doubt a Chief because ‘Champions find a way.’”


Posted 5/14/2024