By Jamie Wachter / Sports Editor
The Meridian Star
Forget what happened in the regular season.
That is at least West Lauderdale coach Bryan Miley's message to the Knights as they prepare to host rival Newton County at 7 p.m. today for the Class 4A South State championship and a berth in the state championship game.
The Knights blanked the Cougars twice already this season in capturing the Division 5-4A title, defeating Newton County 2-0 on Dec. 14 at home before beating the Cougars 5-0 on Jan. 11 on the road.
“The key is we're just going to have to keep our kids level-headed,” Miley said. “Even though we beat them two times this year, that does not mean that will impact a thing. It will be a war.”
During those previous two meetings, West was led by senior Chris Mallette. After scoring one goal in the first matchup, Mallette netted a pair of goals and added an assist in the rematch. Tyler Green added assists in both games as well as a goal in Decatur. Tyler Germany, who has paced West's attack in the postseason with five of his team-high 28 goals coming in the playoffs, also scored a goal in the home win, while Quinton Smith and Caleb Carpenter also scored goals on the road. In goal, Cody Anderson had nine saves total.
“There's no love lost there and no scouting to do,” Miley said. “We know each other like the back of our hand. We play each other in JV and varsity.
“It's going to be a war. That's exactly what it's going to be, an all-out war.”
That battle comes after the Cougars upset Bay High in the first round in overtime and then blanked Lawrence County on Tuesday in the second round.
“No, not really,” Miley said about expecting a third game with the Cougars. “We wanted Newton County to go down and upset Bay High. But we were expecting to play Bay High. That happened first round and we knew if we beat Laurel, we'd have a good chance to be at home against them.
“I think it's just a testament to the soccer right around in the Lauderdale County area and Newton County, a lot of their kids come over here and play in the summer and rec ball. So it's just really a testament to the youth soccer program around here that two of our own from this area are playing each other for the South State championship. It's just a testament to this area.”