E.A. Sports Today

Baker’s big night

UPDATED: Donoho senior plays emotional final home match, scores twice, commits to play football at Birmingham Southern

Donoho’s Mitchell Baker (7) makes run during one of his two Senior Night goals Tuesday. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Mitchell Baker’s body was telling him it was already a long season. Practically every part of him hurt, but nothing was going to keep him off the pitch on this of all nights.

Baker was playing his final home game in any sport in his Donoho career Tuesday night and no matter how much the hamstring he tweaked at the Calhoun County Track Meet pulled or that right shoulder/collarbone that has bothered him all season ached he was playing.

Donoho’s most prolific scorer found the net twice in the first half of a 10-0 rout of Sacred Heart at Lentz Field that solidified the Falcons’ place in the state soccer tournament. But this was so much more than goals.

“Last time ever playing at Donoho in any sport basically, so it’s a big deal; I just really wanted to play,” Baker said. “I just wanted to come out here and have fun in my last game.

“It was pretty emotional. I’ve been playing soccer with some of these guys since seventh grade, some of them even longer than that, some of the girls, too; we’ve been playing since we were like 6. It was emotional, last game to play with any of them at home.”

He has at least two more matches in his career to add to his prolific numbers – Wednesday night at Sacred Heart and next Tuesday in their playoff opener. The two goals he scored against the Cardinals gave him 125 for his career, tied for ninth on the AHSAA all-time scoring list. He also scored 362 career points for the football team as a receiver and kicker.

Before the game he committed to play football at Birmingham Southern, where he is expected to play a skill position and maybe get a shot to kick. The school announced earlier Tuesday Baker had received a $5,000 scholarship from the Calhoun County Quarterback Club.

“I cannot think of an athlete in my coaching career that has meant more to one school than Mitchell Baker has meant to Donoho – in football, in soccer, in basketball,” Falcons soccer coach Matthew Wright said. “He’s like that tire you’ve gotten every mile out of, every single mile. Everything he could give you, he’s given you.”

That was so true Tuesday night with all that was ailing him. His goal-scoring prowess is legendary, but it’s also drawn the attention of multiple defenders during the season limiting his opportunity. Still, he has take advantage of the situation to act as a distributor, finding open teammates for them to fill the nets.

Seven other Falcons scored in the game, which ended when seventh-grader Mihir Patel pushed a rebound past the left post with 24:34 left. Zaurayze Rehmen scored the first two goals of the match five minutes apart in the first 15 minutes, Ross Hagan came out of the goal to score twice in less than four minutes in the first six minutes of the second half, and Ameen Salome, Mac Love and Tej Patel had single scores.

“Ross’ (goals) were really special because he plays keeper the whole time and then Mihir here at the very end, his was great, his first goal ever, so that was exciting,” Baker said. “And (Rehmen), that was his best game ever, I think. That was really good; I liked that.”

Before taking the pitch Baker committed to play football at Birmingham Southern. Some SEC and ACC schools were interested in him as a kicker, but his decision ultimately came down between BSC and Berry.

“It just felt right, really,” he said of his choice.

Details on the formal signing are pending, but, typical of Baker’s understated nature, it’s not expected to be something elaborate.

Donoho 10, Sacred Heart 0
Sacred Heart 0 0 — 0
Donoho 6 4 — 10

Goals: Zaurayze Rehman 2, Mitchell Baker 2, Ameen Salome, Mac Love, Ross Hagan 2, Tej Patel, Mihir Patel.

WEAVER CLOSES WITH A WIN: Osbaldo Garcia scored two goals and Jerdon Lewis nailed a penalty kick as the Bearcats (7-12) avenged an earlier shutout loss to Anniston with a 3-0 victory.

The Bearcats ended their first season of soccer winning five of their last seven matches. They beat Faith Christian on Monday 8-6, rallying from a 2-0 halftime deficit to win in double penalty kicks. The teams were tied after the first set of PKs, 5-5. Brendyn Knight and Trey Carr scored goals in regulation, while Kyle Knight, Carr, Cody Souder, Donovan Baca, Garcia and Lewis scored penalty kicks. Matt Elston stopped three penalty kicks among his 15 saves in the Weaver goal.

Noah Wright (R) left his feet in hopes of directing a header past Sacred Heart goalie Tim Weng. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

To see more B.J. Franklin photos from the Sacred Heart-Donoho game, go to www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

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