E.A. Sports Today

Friendly rivalry

Donoho boys top Jacksonville 3-1, and girls play to a draw in showdown of Calhoun County soccer rivals on Jax State’s field

Donoho’s Erin Turley (right) and Zoe Christopher and Jacksonville’s Grace Boothe race to control a ball during their match at Jacksonville State University’s soccer complex Tuesday. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/gunghophotos.smugmug.com)

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — Donoho and Jacksonville have two of Calhoun County’s historically strong high school soccer programs. Their players often become teammates during club ball.

Put the two together on the county’s only college pitch, and entertaining matches break out.

Drew Williamson’s three goals pushed Donoho’s boys past Jacksonville 3-1 in the second match of a boy-girl double header on the Jacksonville State University soccer complex Tuesday.

The two girls’ teams played to a 0-0 tie in the opener.

“This is just so fun,” said Williamson, the reigning All-Calhoun County boys’ player of the year. “I always love playing Jacksonville because it’s a good county rivalry.

“We don’t always get to play them. When we do, we always love the competition. It’s a good match.”

Familiarity plays a role in the sense of rivalry. Williamson has played club ball with current Jacksonville assistant coach Wiley Hupertz, and Williamson and Jacksonville’s Alex Mullins went to the same summer camps.

Mullins said he has played club ball with Donoho’s Trey Alexander, Jack Thomas and Matthew Belcher.

“I went to Donoho in grades first through third, so all of these guys are like a second family, almost,” Mullins said.

Drew Williamson scored all three Donoho goals against Jacksonville on Tuesday. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/gunghophotos.smugmug.com)

Jacksonville has played its home matches this season on JSU’s field while work is underway to install turf in Golden Eagle Stadium.  That Jacksonville and Donoho got played on a bigger college field Tuesday added a college feel to the rivalry matches.

The size of the field combined with the match coming right after spring break also led to stoppages for cramping in both matches.

“Coming out of spring break, everybody was out of shape after a week off,” Donoho coach Tim Melton said. “The kids look forward to this game. We were able to put it together, even though we’re not in the same area. 

“It’s always been kind of a cross-county rivalry for us, and the kids enjoyed playing it out here.”

Williamson scored at 2:31 of the first half and added two more in the second half, at 21:45 and 7:49.

He used his left foot to make good on a Bruce Downey crosser in the first half then used his right to redirect an Adam Salame pass from the right corner to make it 2-0.

Landon Garner scored to bring Jacksonville within 2-1 at 17:45, but Williamson delivered his most spectacular goal of the night to complete the hat trick, dribbling over Jacksonville goalie Peyton Spruill’s head then tapping the ball home on the other side.

“I wasn’t even sure what I was going to do,” Williamson said. “The ball bounced, and I was just like, ‘OK, I see him coming,’ so I just kicked it over.”

Both teams eye next week’s Isaac Crook Invitational, the de facto county tournament. Faith Christian and Saks did not field boys’ teams this season, leaving five teams … not enough for a county championship. The five remaining teams organized a tournament to honor Crook, the former Weaver player who died in December of 2020.

The tourney also includes Oxford and White Plains. Jacksonville plays Weaver on April 4, and the winner plays Donoho on April 7. 

The championship is April 8 at Choccolocco Park.

“We look forward to play them again, I hope,” Jacksonville coach Chris Terrell said. “We have to work our way back. We’re going to play Weaver to start, and Weaver is a good team. You never know what can happen.

“Hopefully, if we can take care of Weaver, then we’ll have a chance to play them again a week from Friday.”

Girls’ match

DONOHO 0, JACKSONVILLE 0: Donoho, county champion the past five years, had several scoring opportunities. The Falcons had four shots bounce off of posts … three off of the crossbar and one the near-side post.

Three of those kicks came from Erin Turley, who did put the ball in the net in the first half, only to see an offsides call.

It was that kind of match.

“Sometimes, you can create all of the chances in the world,” Donoho coach Vinny Yslava said. “Especially in high school soccer, sometimes it’s just not there for you.

“My focus right now is to explain that this isn’t always going to be how it is. We created the chances. We did an excellent job of that. Tonight, it just wasn’t there for us.”

Jacksonville coach Kim Darby took a positive from the Golden Eagles keeping the Falcons off of the scoreboard.

“The team played hard and fought hard, battled hard,” she said. “They’re a very good team. They pass well, so that’s a good result.”

There will be a girls’ county tournament next week, with a chance that Donoho and Jacksonville could meet again.

“Honestly, I have the utmost confidence that this game is going to motivate us even harder to play them,” Yslava said. “If we would’ve blown them out, if the result would’ve been different tonight, we may have gone into that game more complacent.

“Now that we have something to prove, I think it’s to motivate them a lot more.” 

Cover photo: Donoho’s Bruce Downey (right) and Jacksonville’s Alex Mullins battle to control the ball during their match at Jacksonville State University’s soccer complex Tuesday. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/gunghophotos.smugmug.com)

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