High school soccer rivals are about to become teammates.
Meridian Youth South Organization and Meridian Futbol Club kicked off the first practices of their newest division — MFC High School — on Monday night at the Jaycee Soccer Complex.
"I feel really good about it," Steve Dennis, director of MCF High School, said. "The kids have helped me feel real good about it because they're excited about it."
MFC is modelling the newest branch of its youth soccer program to resemble others from across the state, but with the sole intention of developing players careers past the high school level.
"The high school division plan is to help these kids get noticed and play at the next level, which we hope is college and beyond," Dennis said.
In the past, MFC has offered U16 and U18 recreational soccer teams, but wasn't able to field a complete team. Offering a competitive program, with a heavy focus on playing in college did the trick and has grabbed the cream of crop.
"MFC and MYSO wanted to partner with high schools in a better way to offer these kids more opportunities," Dennis said. "It was formed a lot based on Gulf Coast's league who have a similar program where they sign a lot of players to colleges ... we are taking the pool of the high school talent and creating this."
At 110 kids, MFC will field six teams — U14, U16 and U17 in boys an girls — made up of players from the surrounding high schools. The turnout was 40 percent more than expected, Dennis said.
The overarching goal is to develop players to the point of getting Meridian on the southern soccer map. MSYO and MFC want college recruiting to be a two way street — they market their players, but schools also come looking for talent.
"The number of kids we get recruited and signed out of this will judge our success more than wins and loses," Dennis said. "Of course we want to win, but we are looking at these players having opportunities.
"We hope this — Meridian Futbol Club High School Division — will be something respected by college coaches throughout the state and they will want to come to us."
While talent on the field is highly important to recruiting, the High School Division will stress academic performance in the classroom and on college entrance exams to create a complete college player.
"First and for most, we are going to encourage the kids to do really well academically," Dennis said. "Second, we are going to offer ACT preparation to help the older kids. And third, is getting them noticed on the field."
Dennis said the feedback from parents has been positive all around, but even more so about the stress placed on hard work off the field.
"A lot of these kids play a lot of soccer, but the parents especially are excited about the academic opportunities more often then the kids," Dennis said.
On Monday night, the high school division kicked off the fall season with practice at the Jaycee Soccer Complex.
The teams will practice weekly, go through boot camps and focus on college recruiting in the fall before breaking for the official Mississippi state high school season begins. MFC will take to tournament brackets in the spring after the high school season as ended.
"We want to develop players, bottom line," Dennis said.
Anyone interested in joining the MFC High School teams is invited to practice on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. or Sunday at 2 p.m. at the complex. Registration for recreation U4 and up runs through August 9, check www.meridiansoccer.com for more information.
High school soccer rivals are about to become teammates.
TSOUKALAS: Is Stephens the new Sullivan?..
Positioned in front of Sullivan-Windham Field in Scooba, the stadium that proudly bares his last name, stands legendary East Mississippi Community College head coach Bob “Bull” “Cyclone” Sullivan.
Adkins wraps up EMCC career at 24-0
Off the field, East Mississippi Community College wide receiver Antoinne Adkin’s life has been a roller coaster. On it though, it has been nothing short of perfect.
Winning in Mississippi extra sweet for EMCC
“If you build it he will come” is a popular quote from the 1989 film Field of Dreams. The statement could be said of the winning tradition behind the success of the East Mississippi Community College football program.
- (PHOTOS) EMCC Wins National Championship Slideshow from the East Mississippi Community College National Championship win in Biloxi. High resolution photos can be viewed at http://themeridianstar.smugmug.com/Sports/EMCC-National-Champions/35256383_MfR3vh#!i=2957460549&k=BZ7r378
East Mississippi tops Georgia Military for NJCAA title
For the second time in three seasons, the East Mississippi Community College Lions are kings of the junior college world. No. 2 EMCC outlasted No. 1 Georgia Military College, 52-32, in the Mississippi Bowl to earn the National Junior College Athletic Association’s national championship Sunday night at Biloxi Indian Stadium.
Lions bring home hardware in title win
After a convincing, 52-32, National Junior College Athletic Association national championship victory over Georgia Military College, the East Mississippi Lions had three members of its team to win prestigious hardware.
- Lions ready to roll on Gulf Coast
5 questions with No.1 GMC head coach Bert Williams
The Meridian Star was able to catch up with No.1 Georgia Military College head coach Bert Williams on the eve of Sunday’s national championship game against No. 2 East Mississippi Community College at 2 p.m. from Biloxi High School Stadium.
EMCC at home in title bout
East Mississippi Community College wide receiver Antoinne Adkins still remembers boarding a charter airplane to Yuma, Ariz. two years ago en route to the Lions’ first ever national championship appearance in the 2011 El Torro Bowl.
Oak Grove holds on for first ever state title
Kirk McCarty threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns, Jordan Mitchell caught nine passes for 149 yards and Oak Grove beat Tupelo 14-7 to win the Mississippi 6A state championship on Friday night.
- More Sports Headlines
- TSOUKALAS: Is Stephens the new Sullivan?..