As the 2014 soccer season began, Statesboro knew that this could be its year.
With 13 seniors on the roster and plenty of experienced veterans returning, the Blue Devils figured to be poised to make a run in the state playoffs.
Thanks to senior goalkeeper Drew Funk and an airtight defense, Statesboro is well on its way. The Devils claimed a 4-1 victory over Richmond Academy Wednesday night for their first region title in nearly a decade and will enter the Class AAAA state tournament as a No. 1 seed.
“It’s been a great season so far,” Funk said. “I’m excited that I’m playing well, but a lot of that has to do with the effort from our defense and, really, the whole team. It’s great to only have to touch the ball a few times each game when you’re in goal.”
Funk has been a huge part of the Devils’ run to the state playoffs as he has surrendered just seven goals all season long.
Thanks to Funk’s six saves in region tournament play, Statesboro rolled to the region title without ever trailing in a game.
“We have a really good squad this year,” Funk said. “I think that we can go far. It would be great to make it to at least the quarterfinals, but there’s no telling how far we can go.”
In what has been another stellar year of track and field for the Statesboro High girls, sophomore pole vaulter Simone Kirkland has added her name to the program’s all-time record books.
On the way to the Devils’ sixth consecutive region championship at the Region 3-AAAA meet last week in Augusta, Kirkland set a new school mark in the pole vault, clearing a height of 8-feet, 6-inches.
Kirkland’s leap set a new high mark for SHS despite taking up the event just last season.
“It was definitely a little scary at first,” Kirkland said. “You get up pretty high, but I just decided to stick with it and do my best. Now I’m confident and know that I can compete and win.”
Kirkland’s school-record effort also topped all the other competitors at last week’s Region 3-AAAA championships and helped the Lady Blue Devils win their sixth consecutive region title.
Kirkland and 18 other teammates will travel to Rutland High School Saturday to compete in sectionals and try to earn a spot in the state meet.
“I’m really excited,” Kirkland said. “I just barely qualified for state last year. This time, I want to give myself a good shot to win and help my team try to win a championship.”