GUYTON — The South Effingham boys soccer team is developing new talent.
The squad boasts a young nucleus that is learning how to read and react to the pace of varsity play.
“I think the young guys are starting to understand what we need them to do and how much faster the game is played,” Mustangs head coach Matthew Hunnewell said. “I think we graduated 11 or 12 seniors last year so we just lost a lot of leadership and confidence to stand and hold the ball, and know that everything is going to be OK for a few seconds.”
Training new athletes might be a headache for some coaches, but Hunnewell is embracing this challenge.
“They are still growing and learning and that’s kind of what’s fun about coaching high school soccer,” he said. “You get young guys that are a little shaky and nervous but at the end of the season they are the same veterans that the older guys are. We are struggling right now but it’s a good struggle to have.”
Cohen Cox and Ashton Meador are two of the youngsters contributing early this season. Hunnewell doesn’t want to single anyone out, however, saying there has been a collective effort.
“Everybody has been pretty solid,” Hunnewell said. “We haven’t had anybody stand up and stand out this year. I think that’s what’s been different than years past. We usually have one or two guys stand out. That’s not to say nobody’s a good player.
“They are kind of on the same page and the same level right now.”
Coming off of their 5-4 win against Statesboro, the Mustangs are 2-2-2. They would much rather have wins instead of those ties but Hunnewell said there is growth in that part of their journey.
“The tie for the Islands game was pretty good,” Hunnewell said. “They are an extremely good team this year. The Effingham County tie was a little harder on us. That felt like a loss.
“I think it’s part of the rivalry in the county. The guys don’t want to tie Effingham County and that’s just how it is.
“It was a good game both ways. The wind was gusting 20-30 miles an hour in the beginning. To come away with a tie, I wouldn’t say we were satisfied with it, but we were able to learn from it and move on.”
Jaydon Parrish has continued the torrid scoring pace he set last year. The senior striker was valiant in defeat last week, scoring five goals against Hilton Head Island in a 6-5 loss.
“I think that kind of goes without saying ... (I am) extremely proud [of him],” Hunnewell said. “As hard as he works on the field is how hard he works in the classroom. I tried early this year to take some of the pressure of scoring off of him. I didn’t want to him to feel like we are demanding that from him.
“Ultimately he gives complete credit to his teammates. We are lucky to have him.”