McCall prepares the 'best team' Valdosta soccer has had yet

Jan. 25—VALDOSTA — Valdosta High School boys' soccer team kicks off their first game of the season against Cook High School's hornets on Feb. 6th, although head coach Steven McCall has long been preparing this year's team to be stronger than ever.

Having spent nearly five years with the Wildcats, Coach McCall has dedicated himself to bringing out the best in Valdosta High School's soccer program and its athletes. Having had many talented players graduate after a couple of solid years on the field, the Wildcats started with a young team last season. Ending last season 3-12-1 overall, coach McCall saw potential and the abundance of teamwork in his roster, "Honestly, that three-win team is the best team I've ever coached."

With a young and dedicated team, the Wildcats have been hard at work. Due to Georgia High School Association rules, the team could not officially practice until Jan. 15th. However, being allowed to do four-on-one conditioning gave the team to get an earlier start than most.

When discussing how long the teams have been training, coach McCall said, "We've been at four-on-one workouts since July 19th. The boys volunteered, it was at their request. I've had really good soccer players, but I've never had better-prepared players for a season."

Further expanding on the strides this team will go for excellence, Coach McCall and the team devised an offseason weightlifting program. The team is as driven as the staff to make this and future seasons memorable. Regarding the program's results, McCall said, "Keep in mind we were a mostly ninth-grade team. In the first month of weightlifting, our boys maxed out in 30 days, and we jumped 24.8 pounds in total weight."

McCall clarified that he was proud of the team for taking these steps but also of the drive of the athletes to want to improve. The team will lose only four seniors this season, with the rest being very young and motivated. The team has planted the seeds to create a powerhouse of a lineup for the next couple of seasons.

When asked if there were any standout players to highlight in this upcoming season, coach McCall was ready. One of the team's wingers, Franklin Garcia, is a senior this year and was described by McCall as "very gifted and talented." McCall also wanted to highlight two young players, fan-favorite Brendan Wood, and Nate Haughbrook, stating," I believe you're gonna be hearing those two names in the future."

Looking into the upcoming season and the big matchups, McCall looks forward to facing Colquitt County due to Valdosta soccer never taking a win over the team. In 27 years, the Wildcats have failed to beat the Colquitt County Packers, but McCall is confident in his team and the work that they have put in.