By Danny C. Davis
After back-to-back state championships in 2022 and 2023 in the MHSAA Class 6A championship games, the Clinton Arrows boys soccer team hopes to add a third championship for the now-Class 7A championship game in February 2024.
So far, so good thus far for the #1-in-the-nation-ranked Arrows, who at press time are undefeated at 13-0, and Arrow head coach Tyler Wade says he feels good about this season.
“We are returning eight of our eleven starters from our championship team from last year,” said Wade. “Also, we have thirteen seniors on the team this year.”
“On the attacking side, we are returning our leading goal scorer from last year, Bryce Nunnery, a senior; and we have a new player that didn’t play much last year but is currently leading our team in goals, Ed Martinez, a junior.”
Martinez has scored nine goals in the first eight games, and Nunnery has found the next eight times. Logan Cole has seven goals.
A strongpoint for the Arrows is the midfield positions, where four of five starters return.
Key midfield starters returning are four seniors – Price Farrar, Keaton Cole, Hayden Wolfe and Logan Cole, who was a starter as sophomore but missed most of last year due to an injury.
“Defensively, we have some really great defenders who have really helped us be successful the last few years.
Brady Torrence, a senior, has been a starter since he was in the eighth grade on defense, and senior Cody Barnett is a three-year defensive starter.
Senior newcomer Caleb Martin has helped solidify the defensive back three.
Senior goalkeeper starter Caleb Pemberton also returns.
“Caleb has done well for us and has done well again this season at goalkeeper, keeping teams from scoring and organizing us defensively.”
“We also have some great leadership on our team, with our senior captains Logan Bryant and Price Farrar,” said Wade.
Once again, the two-time defending state champion Arrows will play or have played an extremely difficult non-region schedule to prepare for the regular season and district games and the playoffs.
The Arrows’ 13-0 start, 3-0 in district play, includes wins over some of the top Class 7A teams in Mississippi, including Oceans Springs, Gulfport, Oak Grove, Brandon, Oxford, Germantown, Madison Central and Tupelo.
“We play in the toughest Class 7A district in the state and have to play each team both home and away, including Madison Central, Tupelo, Starkville and Germantown.”
Wade also said his Arrows will be challenged this season playing four very good teams from Florida, including Miami Beach, whom the Arrows beat 2-1 at Arrow Field; and upcoming games against Arnold, Fort Walton and Niceville, which will take place the first week of January in a tournament.
Said Wade, “Winning three state championships in a row will be extremely difficult, no matter how talented we are this year. We really like the pieces we have and our ability to win, but we have to put it together consistently at the right time to reach that potential.”
“The target on our back is getting larger and larger, and we have to be our best daily to be successful,” Wade continued. “We are up for the challenge and hope to continue to build on the success we have achieved the last several years.”