Blue Jays seek SHAC Div. I soccer crown with talent, experience on the return

By Wade Linville -
Jaki Royal is back on the field for his senior season as the Ripley Blue Jays’ goalkeeper. -

The Ripley-Union-Lewis-Huntington Blue Jays are in search of their first Southern Hills Athletic Conference Division I title with third-year head coach Kevin Poe back at the helm, and this year’s Jays have the talent and experience it will take to lead the way in league play with a heap of talent to go along with a great deal of varsity experience.

You can’t speak of this year’s Blue Jays without mention of senior goalkeeper Jaki Royal, who has proven himself as one of the most talented multi-sport athletes in the SHAC. Providing leadership on the field as an SHAC all-star goalkeeper is nothing new for Jaki Royal, so expect him to once again be a motivator during his senior season this fall.

“He’s solid back there, so no worries on that end,” Poe said of goalkeeper Royal. “He’s just a freak athlete and nothing surprises me with what he does at this point.”

Joining Jaki Royal on the defensive end of the field are other experienced players including senior sweeper Corey Germann, senior Joseph Blum, and sophomore Cody Germann.

Poe expects a much improved defense from last fall with some players becoming more familiar with their positions.

“Last year, most of them weren’t really experienced back there. Cody (Germann) didn’t move to defense until a couple of days before our first game,” Poe said of his Blue Jay defense. “There’s more experience back there this year, so our defense should be pretty solid.”

When at their best, scoring goals on the Jays will be a difficult task for SHAC opponents this fall, but expect a speedy, aggressive offense to be among the team’s major strong points this season.

Among those leading the attack will be juniors Nigel Royal, Montrez McGill, Tristan Finn, and senior Ryan Mitchell.

Also aiding the Jays on the field this season will be seniors Matthew Marshall, Travis Flannery,a nd Ryan Blanford.

In all, this year’s Blue Jay varsity boys’ soccer team is equipped with eight seniors, the most experienced crew Poe has coached in his three years at Ripley.

“I feel like we should be strong in leadership with eight seniors,” said Poe.

Before the official start to the 2018 fall soccer season later this month, Poe is hoping that communication on the field will improve among his Blue Jays but, overall, the preseason has been going very well for the RULH varsity boys’ soccer team.

Jaki Royal is back on the field for his senior season as the Ripley Blue Jays’ goalkeeper. Royal is back on the field for his senior season as the Ripley Blue Jays’ goalkeeper.

By Wade Linville