HUNTSVILLE | In a rematch of last year’s region semifinal game that lofted Scott High to the program’s first-ever substate berth, the Highlanders and Stone Memorial played to a 2-2 tie here Tuesday to open the season.
The Highlanders jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead, then retook the lead in the second half, but both times Stone Memorial had an answer. The defending District 6-AA champion never led in the game, but was able to prevent Scott High from getting a win — though the Highlanders had several successive opportunities directly in front of the net in the 60th minute that they were unable to capitalize on.
“We should have won,” Scott High coach Eric Henry said. “If we had done anything with our corner kicks we would’ve won. We have to do better on set pieces.”
Still, Henry wasn’t displeased with the effort or the outcome.
“We scored two goals against a really good team so I’m happy about that,” he said.
Hugo Henry scored first, an unassisted goal five minutes into the game. Early in the second half, Henry assisted a goal by Connor Stanley. Stone Memorial’s goals came with 25 minutes remaining in each half.
“I thought we played well across the field,” Henry said. “In the back we had mistakes but we recovered well. Clayton Carroll had more minutes tonight than he did the first three seasons but he played really well in the back.”
It was a cold, wet night in Huntsville, and Henry said the field conditions helped neutralize some of Stone’s technical advantage.
“Last year down there, Stone was 100 miles an hour,” he said. “Tonight’s field positions leveled things out a little bit, but they’re still a great one-touch team.”
Henry credited the play of Hayden Blevins and Nolan Cotton on defense, Luke Bowling in the goal, and Henry and Skye Babb up front. He also credited the play of freshman Bo Sharpe, who provided depth off the bench.
“We did a good job of moving the ball around,” he said. “We just had too many touches, I think. These guys are aggressive, and you don’t have time to two or three touch and get it under control because then they’re on you. Hugo and Skye were blowing past their guys all night, we just didn’t capitalize.”
The Highlanders are thought by some to be in position to capture the program’s first-ever district championship. After the first outing of the season, Henry wasn’t ready to go that far but liked the improvement his team made.
“We’re coming together better,” he said. “Early on I was concerned a little bit because we lost three to graduation and while a lot of my guys have minutes, they’re getting minutes in different places now. Leivance (Weatherford) went from fullback to center mid, Toby (Garrett) went from center mid or center fullback to up front, so I have guys who have played but they’re playing new spots. Andy (Blevins) has played a lot of defense but he was on the wing last year. It’s a lot different game at center fullback than it is on the outside.
“So we’ll see,” he said. “We have what we need. It’s just about doing what the coach says and finishing. That’s what it boils down to.”