A New Opportunity
Boys Soccer, Girls Soccer, Sports

A New Opportunity

By Cameron Deckman

The referee blows the whistle.

Mason Lynn, a Delta High School graduate, will now take a free kick after Brayden Stanley, a current Delta High School senior, got fouled. 

He kicks it toward the goal, and Levi Griffis, a former Delta High School student, headers it in.

That was the last goal the Delta Eagles  boys’ or girls’ soccer teams would make in their 2022-23 season.

The boys ended up losing that sectional game against Eastbrook 3-2 and finished with a record of 8-8-1. The girls lost against Jay County  the next day 0-4. They ended with a record of 5-10-1.

The season was over, but there was something bigger happening at the same time. Both soccer teams would no longer have coaches.

The former girls’ head coach, Brytany Pope, would be stepping down from the head coach role, and the former boys’ head coach, Kurt Griffis, would also be stepping down along with his assistant coach Mike Bauer.

Griffis coached for 12 years, but when his son Levi graduated he realized he wanted to watch him and his other son, Zion, play soccer together at IU East.

“I’d describe [stepping down] as a graduating senior, and it’s the last time you’re going to be on the field in that role,” Coach Griffis said, “You may show up again, but you’ll only be a fan.”

He still finds time to watch the team. He went to watch the boys get a 2 – 0 win over Mt. Vernon. He was impressed by how the team played.

“They have some players that I think are phenomenal, the goalie Samori [McKell-Jeffers] is phenomenal, the Italian kid, [Pietro Leone], is phenomenal, Brayden Stanley is wicked good, and Cooper Pierce has been doing a great job,” Griffis said.

Brayden Stanley gets ready to get the ball (Photo by Kate Dickey)

On the boys side, a whole new duo of coaches would step up. Head coach Tony Pierce and assistant coach Jarrett Freeman are the new coaches for the team, and they brought a new style of play with them. According to senior Brayden Stanley, they play a more tactical style of play, compared to the direct style Griffis brought to the team.

“Last year I played the ball further down the field, but this year I pass shorter,” says Samori Mckell-Jeffers, junior goal keeper.

Samori gets a save during practice before a game. (Photo by Kate Dickey)

Coach Pierce is not new to some of the players on the team. He has coached many of the freshmen in a soccer club in Muncie called DCFC. His coaching strategy has been the same for these freshmen, and he has worked with the older players to adapt to it.

As of Sept. 25, the boys’ soccer record is 9 – 5. They have already passed last year in wins and hope to win sectionals.

“Go get them,” Griffis advises the boys’ team.

Sophomore Hudson Ewing passes the ball into the field after it goes out of bounds. (Photo by Kate Dickey)

Mrs. Pope, who had coached the girls’ teams starting in 2018, decided after last season it was time to move on.

“She was another great asset that we had to replace, and I wish her all the best,” said Athletic Director Tilmon Clark.

But the team would not have to adjust to a brand new person being the head coach. After being the assistant coach the previous year, Mason Turner would step up to the head coach role.

He has been with most of the girls since middle school. When the class of 2026 moved to high school, he went with them.

Sophomore Jordan Bunch plays under the lights (Photo by Mia Torres)

One big thing that has changed about the girls team is their unity. Sophomore Aubree Jarrells, sophomore Ruth Sherck, and senior Hannah Swanson believe that the team is closer in general.

“It feels more of team. We are working more together,” Jarrells says.

The girls soccer team cheers on the boys team at home. (Photo by Kate Dickey)

For most of the season the team only had one coach. This made practices a struggle, especially for Turner’s first year. However, Trinity Wine stepped up as a volunteer coach for the Eagles.

Practices compared to last year are very different. In previous years, the team’s focus was conditioning, but Mason’s strategy is drill focused. He has the offense go against the defense and looks for anything that could be fixed.

They are a young team, only having two seniors, and much of the team is sophomores and freshmen. Even with this, the team is 7 – 5 – 1 as of Sept. 25. They also hope to win sectionals.

Sophomore Ella Langdon advances the soccer ball. (Photo by Mia Torres)

“Every time I go to a soccer game, I’m just more impressed with how gritty our soccer athletes are out on the soccer field because you have to have a lot of toughness, too, and it’s not just run around and kick the ball,” Tilmon says.

September 28, 2023

About Author

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Cameron Deckman Cameron Deckman is a sophomore at Delta High School. He enjoys running, but always forgets his water bottle. He has crazy shin problems and after every run can be seen limping. He drinks black coffee like an old man. He plays baseball, too, and his favorite team is the Cincinnati Reds. DE LA CRUZ ON TOP!


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