Picayune’s boys soccer team hope to repeat last year’s success

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Picayune’s Head Soccer Coach Britton Fortenberry will rely on a young Maroon Tide squad this year as he leads the team to success.

Last season, Picayune finished with a 5-10 overall record and a 3-3 record in region 7-5A. The Maroon Tide earned a spot in the Class 5A state playoffs but saw its season come to an end after a 2-1 defeat to Long Beach High School in the first round of the playoffs.

The Maroon Tide lost eight players from last season after they graduated and Fortenberry expects its young players to grow quickly.

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“We’re young and inexperienced,” Fortenberry said. “We have good, young talented players and we also have four returning players from last year who have experience. At the moment, we’re just trying to find the perfect mix between senior leadership and young guys. These first couple of games will help us build and grow and once we begin our region games, we’ll find ourselves right in the middle of it, so it’s going to be a battle.”

Picayune will face Hattiesburg High School, North Pike High School and Pearl River Central High School in its region 7-5A matches.

“Besides our region matches, I’m looking forward to the first week of December,” Fortenberry said. “We’ll be playing in the High School Classic Tournament and it’s a good opportunity for us to prepare for the region games. During the tournament, we’ll also face some teams we don’t usually see from the coast, so it’s always a good weekend.”

Fortenberry expects seniors Cody Butler and Khalid Noaman to lead the young Maroon Tide team to the state playoffs for a second consecutive year.

“Butler is our starting goalkeeper and any soccer player will tell you that leadership on the field begins in the back and he’s the perfect player to have such role,” Fortenberry said. “Noaman is a guy that works hard and is a tough competitor. He has stepped up in the leadership role this year and I’m excited to see what he’ll be able to accomplish this year.”

Also, a new aspect of this year’s Picayune soccer program is that the school now has a junior high program. The program will help players in the seventh and eight grades compete against neighboring schools.

“Our junior high program will pay off big time with player development and being able to sustain success at the high school level,” Fortenberry said. “Every school along the coast has a junior high program and we were finally able to put ours together this year. Currently we don’t belong to a league but I hope to join the coast league next year.”

While Fortenberry prepares for the upcoming matches, he will also rely on young talent from Eli Shoemake, Francisco Cruz, Joshua Thomas and Jeremy McDaniel to help Picayune bring home wins this season.

“Everyone has stepped up in practice and we get better everyday,” Fortenberry said. “The future is bright and everyone will be getting a lot of experience this year.”