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Comets Have Experience, Talent

With 10 seniors on the team and eight players returning from last year’s team, Halifax County High School head varsity boys soccer coach Frank Shealy is optimistic about his team’s fortunes this season. His optimism has been fueled by the fact that the Comets have gotten off to a good start with a win and a tie in their first two regular-season contests.
“The coaching staff is optimistic about the season,” Shealy said.

“We have the ingredients of a winning team. In the past, our soccer teams have been used to losing most of their games. We have the ability to change that this year, but winning comes with an attitude, a way of thinking, and a way of playing.”

Shealy said one of positive factors has been that the players are starting to buy into the coaching philosophy and strategy that he and his coaching staff are emphasizing.

“When they truly believe in themselves and in this system, winning will follow,” Shealy remarked.

“I have several players that are sacrificing one position to play another position they may not be comfortable with and are doing it for the team. It has made a difference in their play.”

The experience factor will be a key ingredient for the Comets this season. Shealy has 10 seniors and eight juniors on the squad, with eight players returning from last year’s varsity team and three players from last year’s junior varsity team moving up to the varsity ranks.

As far as his lineup is concerned, Shealy has Josh Walls as the goalkeeper with Shannon Hargrave, LaMar Holmes, Kenny Brandon, Dylan Compton and Victor DeLeon at defense positions.

Midfielders include Dru Henderson, Robyn Martin, T.J. Daniels and Jordan Keck.

Brandon Garner is the team’s lone striker. He has scored already scored two goals this season.

Captains for the team include Henderson, Holmes, Hargrave and Garner.

“Coach Hargrave (assistant coach Marcus Hargrave) and myself have placed the players in positions that best suit the team and our strategy,” Shealy said.

“We want a strong defense and our most skilled players in the middle of the field. Our outside guys provide needed size and speed to their positions. From defense to offense, we are solid up the middle.”

Shealy said another of the team’s strong points is his bench.

“We rotate our starting lineup some, but the guys coming off the bench are invaluable with the energy and minutes they put in,” Shealy pointed out.

D’Ron and D’Quan Penick play wing for us and have had good minutes during our first two games. Johnathan Penick has started some through our scrimmages and the first game and will get solid minutes throughout the season.

“Freshman Sergio Carballo is playing up this year as a defensive player and will see time at several positions,” Shealy added.

“Hunter Fulcher and Tanner Blanks will see time at a couple of spots, mostly midfield. Both bring some soccer knowledge to the game. Fulcher played on the JV squad a couple of years ago.”

Shealy has more players that he feels can contribute to the team this season.

“LaShawn Richardson, A.J. Moore, and Keith Gutrich haven’t played soccer before, but have shown promise in practice,” Shealy said.  

“Richardson plays defense, Moore has played at midfield, and Gutrich scored a goal in a scrimmage game at Dan River High School playing at the striker position.”

The Comets will be back in action tonight when they travel to Skipwith to face Bluestone High School. Game time tonight is 7:30 p.m.