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Escobar’s footwork leads SEHS soccer in the right direction
Edson Escobar
South Effingham's attacking midfielder Edson Escobar (No. 11) splits the defense with a run toward the Effingham County net during a match against the Rebels on Feb. 27. Escobar scored two goals and added two assists in the Mustangs' 7-1 win. (Mark Lastinger for the Effingham Herald.)

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

GUYTON – Edson Escobar showed passion for the sport of soccer even before he had a ball at his feet. A roll of tape was on the floor at home and at the age of three Edson did what came naturally – he started dribbling it.

Escobar is a senior now at South Effingham and his soccer ballhandling and acumen have been a direct link to the team’s 13-2-1 record with the Class 6A state tournament looming.

Escobar, the Mustangs’ midfield magician, leads the squad with 14 goals and 14 assists during his first season playing high school ball.

“I’d imagine myself playing against (world soccer legends) Ronaldinho, Messi, Maradona,” said Escobar, describing his ability to dribble around defenders. “Basically, what you need to be is in love with the soccer ball. You have to have love for that soccer ball and no one is going to take it away. Everything will be in your feet.”

Escobar (5-7, 157) has skills rarely seen at the high school level. He’s a finesse player who kicks right footed and left footed without favoritism. He envisions plays before they develop.

And his ability to dribble creates a plethora of scoring opportunities.

“He’s going to be the guy the ball is moving through for us,” SEHS coach DaKota Paradice said. “He’s perfect for that because he’d rather get an assist than a goal.”

Escobar agrees.

“I’d rather pass it to my teammates and have them take it to glory,” he said. “I want everyone to play, not just me. If we all play together, we’ll all share the credit.”

Escobar celebrates
Mustangs senior midfielder Edson Escobar celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Evans on Feb. 23. Escobar leads South Effingham with 14 goals and 14 assists this season. (Mark Lastinger for the Effingham Herald.)
Escobar honed his skills by playing in Tormenta FC Academy’s developmental programs and other high-level local teams.

But he gives most of the credit to his father, Jorge Escobar, who played professional soccer in El Salvador after playing on the Salvadoran under-17 national team.

“He’s my (mentor),” Edson said. “He showed me everything when I was little. He gets on me when I do things wrong, but it’s because he cares so much. To this day, I appreciate everything he’s taught me. He’s a legend to me.”

Paradice wouldn’t mind having Jorge Escobar as an assistant.

“If I could have another coach and I could speak Spanish, his dad would be out here on the sidelines telling me some things,” Paradice said. “(The Escobars) have a tight-knit family and a lot of the knowledge (Edson) has comes from the house.”

Edson has dreams of following in his father’s footsteps and playing professional soccer. He said teams from Mexico and Guatemala have expressed interest.

“It would be great to go to those countries to play because the dreams I want to achieve would be there,” Escobar said.

His present dreams are to take South Effingham as far as he can. The Mustangs are just one win away from tying the program record of 14 in a single season. SEHS has regular-season games with Johnson (on April 9) and Benedictine (on Thursday, April 11) before starting the Class 6A state tournament at home on April 19.

South placed second in Region 2-6A behind powerful Glynn Academy – the only two games the Mustangs lost this year.

In both Glynn games, Escobar scored SEHS’ lone goal.

“Losing against Glynn Academy made us realize we have to work harder defensively but I have faith we can make it where we’re supposed to be,” Escobar said.