George counting on talent to spark Eagles
By By Tony Krausz/assistant sports editor
August 23, 2003
Meridian Community College appears to have found the perfect formula to assemble a men's soccer team.
The Eagles are athletic, combine size and speed and have plenty of experience on the pitch.
"Since day one, everything has been flowing," said MCC head coach Alex George, whose team began practicing on Aug. 8. "It is just amazing when you get the kind of talent that you are looking for, it makes coaching easy. You just basically keep it organized and get them in shape. When you have this much talent in one place, you have 22 men between 18 and 22 years old, who have been playing this game for so long, it is not a difficult job (to coach)."
The ease of practice and the mixture of skilled veteran and rookie junior college players could help the Eagles improve on their already impressive 14-3-1 record from last season.
MCC returns 12 players from last year's squad, and 10 freshmen have joined the Eagles for the upcoming season.
"We have a lot of speed at every position and very sizable kids who can move real well," George said. "They are good athletes, and they have good footwork."
On the field, returning center midfielder Bryan Bledsoe is expected to be the conduit between the team's offense and defense.
The sophomore, who is one of the team's captains, recorded 17 assists and nine goals last year.
"(Bledsoe) is my anchor," George said. "He is a real good team leader. I look for him to be a real good linkage player for us."
MCC has a powerful one-two punch leading the squad's explosive offensive attack.
Midfielder Brandon Rodgers and forward Benton Dufour returned to the Eagles' squad after combining for 35 goals last season.
Rodgers tallied 18 scores and added 15 assists from the middle, and Dufour netted 17 goals playing up top.
"(Dufour) was real solid last year, and he put on a lot of size and strength over the summer," George said. "I'm looking forward to him coming back. (Rodgers) is an explosive player who can do a lot on the field."
The Eagles added a new goaltender to anchor their already stingy defense.
Will Sowell transferred from Hinds Community College to man MCC's net.
George said the new Eagles' keeper has Division I ability, and he will have a sophomore-laden defensive corps in front of him in 2003.
"I have what I would say is the top goalkeeper in the state of Mississippi," George said. "I have a good, strong, fast and very aggressive backfield. Most of them are all returners. They have experience from last year, and they have been real devoted to offseason workouts."
Just as the coach has enjoyed watching the team gel on the field during practice, George said he can't wait to see his potentially showtime-type squad hit the field and start netting goals and victories.
"I want to watch them score," George said. "I look forward to seeing this group of guys get on that field and take that ball and burn the back of the net. I think they are capable of doing that a lot this year."
MCC opens the season against Hinds Community College at 7 p.m. Wednesday on the road.