By Wade Linville –
After finishing last season with only a few wins, the Ripley-Union-Lewis-Huntington Blue Jays have clinched second place in Southern Hills Athletic Conference Division I standings this season.
The Jays, headed this year by first-year coach Kevin Poe, clinched second place in SHAC Division I standings with Wednesday’s 4-1 victory over the visiting Peebles Indians on Senior Night at Ripley.
The Jays were scheduled to take on Lynchburg-Clay, the team that has clinched the SHAC Division I title, before facing Bethel-Tate in round one of the Southwest District Division III Sectional Tournament.
“With the energy they showed today, I’m confident going into the match against Lynchburg-Clay and into the sectional tournament,” Poe said following the Jays’ win over Peebles.
For Poe, this year has been a great experience as a first-year head coach who leads a great deal of talented players on this year’s Ripley varsity boys soccer team that includes four seniors – Jordan Griffith, Laymon Marshall, Dalton Moran, and Scottie Ott.
“It’s been a new experience, but it’s been a lot of fun,” said Poe. “The guys have come to work hard every day, which is all I can ask of them. I love the game and I’m glad I can help turn this program around and hopefully keep it going for awhile.”
It was freshman forward Montrez McGill scoring the Jays first goal of the day in the Oct. 12 win over Peebles with 17:14 to go in the first half.
The Indians tied the game at one apiece with 6:13 remaining in the first half, as junior Tanner Schmitz scored off a penalty shot.
The Jays rose to a 1-1 lead as Marshall sailed a penalty kick over the Peebles defensive wall and into the net with 4:55 to go in the first half.
Just over a minute later, it was Ripley sophomore Tristan Finn bouncing a shot off the crossbar, but Griffith scored on the follow up to give the Jays a 3-1 lead that would last through halftime.
Some excellent saves from Ripley goalkeeper Jaki Royal helped to keep the Indians scoreless in the second half, as well as some aggressive defense by Marshall, Ott and others.
After nearly 39 minutes of scoreless soccer in the second half, it was Marshall finishing off an attack by scoring an impressive goal from long range over the head of the Peebles goalie to cap-off the 4-1 Ripley victory.
The Jays rose to an overall record of 8-1-4 and a Southern Hills Athletic Conference record of 4-0-2 with Wednesday’s win over Peebles.
The Jays received the No. 13 seed for the Southwest District Division III Sectional Tournament and will begin tournament play against the No. 9 seed Bethel-Tate Tigers (14-2) on Oct. 17.
For more on this year’s Jays, be on the lookout for the Oct. 20 edition of The Ripley Bee newspaper.