Eagles to make first state playoff appearance

The Douglas High School varsity boys soccer team will clash with Crossville on Thursday in its first state playoff match. Team members are, front row, from left, freshman Raul Chavez, freshman Alex Ramirez, senior Jeremiah Bautista, sophomore Miguel Cruz, junior Nain Perez, senior Brayan Perez, senior Pedro Zacarias, senior Rigoberto Francisco, freshman Ricky Sepulveda and senior Juan-Tomas Alexander; back row, from left, head coach Terry Gilbreath, freshman Jason Aqueda, freshman Jonathan Ayala, sophomore Milton Gonzalez, freshman Oscar Conriquez, junior Ivan Franco, senior Alex Martinez, junior Johan Gonzalez, senior Emmanuel Cruz-Jaimes, senior Joe Ramirez and senior Gaspar Escobar. Not pictured is assistant coach Mario Verde.

Experiencing their fourth year as a soccer program, the Douglas varsity boys reached the state playoffs for the first time by finishing as the runner-up in Class 4A-5A, Area 11.

The Eagles are 6-5-1 overall, the winningest season in program history. They posted a 4-2 area record.

Douglas has outscored its opponents 45-17.

The Eagles travel to Crossville in the first round of the postseason Thursday at 5 p.m. DHS beat Crossville 4-0 on April 11 at Crossville Memorial Stadium.

“We are very excited to be entering the playoffs for the first time in program history,” Douglas head coach Terry Gilbreath said.

“The players have responded to all the challenges and expectations, making improvements each game and practice.

“Our seniors have provided great leadership and have led the way. We are also excited about the young players that have joined the program and not only gotten better, but contributed to the successes thus far.”

The performance of goalie Tomas Alexander has been crucial to the Eagles’ success.

“Tomas Alexander has worked very hard at practice to become an effective goalie,” Gilbreath said.

“We lost our goalie from the previous year, and Tomas has stepped into that role, not missing a single practice and improving each day.”

Gilbreath said assistant coach Mario Verde and DHS Principal Angie Stapler have also been essential to his team’s record-setting year.

“Mario Verde has been a tremendous help to the program this year,” Gilbreath said. “He is an alumni student and has volunteered his time. He has a great heart for the kids and the school.

“Principal and Athletic Director Angie Stapler has supported the program, coaches and players every step of the way.

“We are excited to be in the position we are in. The challenge for our team now is to continue focusing on ourselves each day to get better and finish strong.”

Thursday’s winner between Crossville and Douglas will advance to play the Oneonta-Scottsboro winner in next week’s Sweet 16.

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