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Mustangs soccer team to be a work in progress
Matt Hunnewell
Mustangs head coach Matt Hunnewell (left) gets his players lined up for a drill Thursday. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff
Having done this for awhile, (players) come and they go. We love them and remember them, and then the next guy steps up.”
Mustangs head coach Matt Hunnewell

GUYTON — Head coach Matt Hunnewell’s eternal optimism and patient demeanor will likely serve him well this year.

 Hunnewell’s South Effingham boys soccer team will have to develop news ways to score following the graduation of Jaydon Parrish, the two-time Region 2-AAAAA Player of the Year. Parrish, now at LaGrange College, bagged a school-record 100 career goals.

“We actually had a conversation about that with them yesterday,” Hunnewell said prior to the start of Thursday’s practice. “They said the same thing — we lost our goal scorer.”

Hunnewell is unshaken by the situation.

“Having done this for awhile, (players) come and they go,” he said. “We love them and remember them, and then the next guy steps up.”

Hunnewell doesn’t know who will fill the offensive void but he is confident someone will. It might even be a collection of players, he said.

“Ultimately, we don’t have to have one person score 30 goals in a season,” he said. “We can have everybody score two goals and still get them that way. It’s going to be different but it’s going to be good.”

It is likely that South Effingham will have to play a different style to produce goals.

Hunnewell said, “From a coach’s standpoint, we didn’t want to depend on Jaydon. We didn’t want to think, ‘He has to score these goals or we don’t win the game.’ But when you put him in situations, he kind of took care of it.

“It’s going to be an adjustment for these guys and in coaching as well to know that we don’t have that guy yet. We are going to attack by group and maybe we can get some goals here and there.”

Hunnewell has devised nearly a dozen new formations and groups.

“I think our attack is going to have to change and our defense is going to have to change, but I kind of like that challenge and I think these guys do, too,” he said.

The Mustangs aren’t devoid of experience. They have five seniors — Juan Sosa, Diego Ibarra, Davis Yarbrough, Angelo Paes and Edwin Martinez — and a large crop of juniors. Martinez recently decided to join the team despite not playing the previous three years.

Junior Liam Rickman and Chase Hoffman

South Effingham will open its season at home Feb. 4 against Savannah Christian. Its first region game is home against Ware County on Feb. 21.

“The early region game means we’ve only got a couple weeks to really get things tuned out,” said Hunnewell, who always stresses the importance of staying calm, cool and collected.

The coach thinks the 2-AAAAA title is up for grabs.

“Statesboro is always competitive,” he said. “I think a team to keep an eye on is Wayne County. I think they have quite a few seniors — if not 11, 12 or 13 — and that’s always scary.

“Last year, that was our one region loss and these guys weren’t happy about it.”