Jays soon to begin quest for SHAC title

Junior goalkeeper Jaki Royal is among the key players on the return for the Ripley-Union-Lewis-Huntington Blue Jays this fall.


Expectations high for RULH boys soccer team coming off last year’s runner-up league finish – 

By Wade Linville – 

Expectations are running high in Ripley as the Blue Jays prepare for their quest to claim this year’s Southern Hills Athletic Conference Division I title, and with a great deal of experience and talent returning from last year’s team that finish second in league play, this year’s Jays have what it takes to accomplish their goal.
Back for his second year as Ripley-Union-Lewis-Huntington High School’s varsity boys soccer coach is Kevin Poe.
“I definitely think we have the talent to win it this year,” said Poe.
The Jays begin this soccer season looking to fill some big shoes on both ends of the field after losing some skilled players to graduation, but there are a number of players on this year’s team who are ready to step up and take on leadership roles. There is also a transfer from Mason County High School in Kentucky, junior Ryan Mitchell, who is expected to provide the Jays with big contributions on the offensive end this fall.
“We are definitely missing a couple of key guys from last year, but there are people who are going to step up and fill those spaces,” said Poe.
Although they return a great deal of experience and talent, this year’s Jays are still quite young with only two seasoned seniors on the varsity squad – Dalton England and Josiah Staggs.
Experience in past years has made England and Staggs pretty versatile on the field, able to play various positions. Last year England saw a great deal of time at the forward position while Staggs had a great season as a defender.
In his second year as the Jays’ head coach, Poe feels his players are adapting well to his coaching style.
“They know more of what I’m expecting from them, and I think that will help on a day-to-day basis,” said Poe.
Back in the goal for his junior season with the Jays is standout Jaki Royal. As a sophomore last season, Royal displayed skills well beyond his years as one of the top goalies in the SHAC, so you can expect another outstanding fall season from the Jays’ returning goalkeeper again this fall.
Montrez McGill marks another key returner for the Jays this season, coming off an excellent freshman year. McGill served as a forward on last year’s Ripley team but will be taking on a role as a defender this season.
Returning for his junior season is Tristan Finn, another skilled player who Poe expect big things from on the offensive end this fall.
Also expected to return for their junior season with the Blue Jays are defender/midfielder Joseph Blum and midfielder/forward Corey Germann.
The Jays finished last year with an overall record of 9-3-4, and they will open this season on Aug. 19 with a non-league contest at Reading.
“I think we will be ready for them,” Poe said of the season opener.