New Jackson County boys' soccer coach Elie Viviant has been with his new Panther club for nine games now and sees lots of potential in this year’s group.
Part of realizing that potential is adopting more of a winning mentality according to Viviant.
“We have the quality to have a winning team here,” Viviant said Friday after his team’s 1-1 tie with Lakeview Academy. “We can do really well this year.”
The coach, who spent five years at Gainesville, said this year’s team has a number of talented players.
“I think everybody is playing pretty well, actually, where we are,” Viviant said. “We do have some better players, like the returning players.”
Specifically, Viviant pointed to seniors like Patrick Ventura and Phillip Burzo who “have always played well,” as well as juniors Luis Caraballo and Alex Torres. He also praised the efforts of sophomore Jimmy Reilly.
“He does the work in the middle and gets the ball further up to our people,” Viviant said. “Nobody really sees him play, but we need players like that.”
Jackson County, with a 4-4-1 record, has held up well halfway through the season against a tough schedule.
“We are a little bit under what I would like,” Viviant said. “But at the same time our losses are against Class AAAAA schools. It’s not a problem when we play in Class AAA. We can hold with everybody I think. I think this year is going to be a good season because of that.”
Jackson County picked up another region win Monday night.
Behind Ventura’s three-goal effort, the Panthers moved to 2-0 in 8-AAA competition with a 7-3 win over Franklin County.
With the contest tied at two at the half after scores from Ventura and Torres, the Panthers struck for five goals in the second half. Ventura scored twice and Steven Gowen, Bryan Lozado and Burzo all scored one goal each as the Panthers pulled away.
The Panthers held the Lions to a single goal in the second half with Caraballo, Trevor Logan, Gowen and Dylan Stow anchoring the defensive effort.
Jackson County then lost to Oglethorpe County 2-1 Tuesday. Ventura scored the team’s only goal.
•GIRLS TEAM WINS TWO OF THREE: The Lady Panthers beat Lakeview 2-1 Friday and Franklin County 10-0 Monday before losing to Oglethorpe County 3-1 Tuesday.
In the victory over Lakeview Academy, Katie Phillips scored both goals.
“We beat a very good team,” coach Joe Ridgway said. “I’m very proud of the way we connected with the ball.”
Against region foe Franklin County, Katie Phillips, Tiffany Savage, Jessica Wells and Madison Phillips provided the scoring in the rout.
Phillips then scored the lone goal in the Lady Panthers’ loss to Oglethorpe County.