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With third straight region title in hand, Mustangs looking for more
South Effingham's Jaydon Parrish (18) launches a shot against Ware County on Tuesday. He scored against the Gators three times and has 100 goals in his career. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

GUYTON -- For the third consecutive season, the South Effingham boys soccer team is the Region 2-AAAAA champion.

The Mustangs, 10-5-2 overall, put together an impressive 7-1 region record. Their lone blemish was a 1-0 loss at Ware County on March 8.

Senior Jaydon Parrish said he knew a region three-peat was attainable but he has a higher goal in mind.

“My freshman year, we didn’t do very well,” he said. “We won three or four games. My sophomore year, we turned things around. It’s more of an expectation. We are focused on state."

With the region crown, the Mustangs secured homefield advantage in the playoffs. Being able to sleep in their own beds, eat their own food and not have a long bus ride to a match is considered a luxury.

“It feels amazing,” Ben Jacques said. “Having home team advantage is always a good thing. Having the experience with the school supporting us and the uplifting encouragement is a good thing.

"Giving the seniors one more night to play at home – we appreciate it.”

The Mustangs clinched the region title last April 8 against New Hampstead with a 9-0 win. 

“It’s a great experience,” Jacques said. “For South Effingham, it’s a family-oriented sport. I love playing with these guys. We’ve all become a family.

"Going through the season together, going through a loss we didn’t really enjoy, leading each other and learning from each other, it’s been great.”

Jacques also credited head coach Matthew Hunnewell. 

“He’s been great,” Jacques said. “If it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t know how to play the position I play. A lot of the guys can vouch for him as well. We would not be where we are today without him.

"We would not have won the region three years in a row without him.”

As they look ahead to the playoffs, their side of the bracket looks awfully familiar as they’ll host Fayette County  in the first round. 

“I don’t really care who it is,” Jacques said. “I’m confident with the guys we have. As long as we leave it on the field, I think we have a chance of winning. 

"I think we can win state if we put our minds to it.”

While the Mustangs were piling up region titles, Parrish notched another impressive achievement. He came into his senior season with 68 and had no intention of trying to get to 100. His teammates, however, were determined to help accomplish the incredible feat.

“I was just trying to win as many games as possible,” Parrish said. “It feels good but my teammates also helped me get to 100 goals. I think the record was only 27. It feels good but it also comes with the teammates I’ve had. All the people that have graduated since my sophomore year.

"It’s kind of been a whole team thing to see how many goals I can get.”