SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. — Social Circle athletics had a banner year during the 2021-22 school year. Multiple programs won region championships, one of which was Social Circle’s boys soccer team.
However, last year’s region title celebration was short-lived once the Redskins were bounced from the state playoffs in round one.
Returning players Jude Nelson and Ethan Knight feel like, as a result, their region championship has been watered down.
“I don’t think people know we won the region last year,” Nelson said.
Another region banner is within reach once again for this Redskins squad currently being 4-0 in Region 5A-Division I.
After experiencing how last season concluded, Social Circle has bigger aspirations than to just win back-to-back region championships.
“I’d much rather win a playoff game plus two or three more playoff games and make it far,” Knight said. “We won region last year, but we’re focused on making a run, hopefully to the Final Four, of the playoffs.”
Despite being in the driver’s seat of Region 5A-Division I, the Redskins have had some close calls. For instance, three of their four region wins had to be won in overtime.
In Social Circle’s region opener, it downed Prince Avenue 3-0 on Feb. 23 in overtime. Then, the Redskins played an extra period at Jasper County on March 14 and won 2-1 followed by the same result on March 17 versus Oglethorpe County.
Knight recognized how the team remained focused throughout each 100-minute match.
“In the games we went to overtime, we’ve been knocking on the door the whole time waiting for a goal,” Knight said. “Against Prince Avenue, it was shot after shot the entire time and we just couldn’t get them in. And we knew something was going to happen. That’s what keeps us going.”
Nelson and Preston Guy are tied for the most goals this season with five apiece while Knight, Cambyl Johnson and Jordan Leigh each have two. Guy and Drake Wilkerson lead Social Circle with two assists each as well.
Meanwhile, Jase Peters has registered 800 game minutes — 40 of which have been in overtime — and has tallied 108 saves. That’s an average of nine saves per match.
In addition to their region schedule, the Redskins have gone up against some noteworthy non-region opponents.
In fact, they began the season facing Northgate, Walnut Grove and Athens Academy as well as Newton and Georgia Military College.
And, even though Social Circle didn’t collect a win during that stretch, Nelson believes those matches are paying dividends now.
“The harder teams set us up to play better against our region,” Nelson said. “I think we got better with the team chemistry. And we worked with drills to help with passing.”
All of those matches are behind them now, and the Redskins are setting their sights on possibly obtaining a second straight region crown this week.
On Wednesday, March 22, Social Circle will travel to face-off against Oglethorpe County and will finish the week at Prince Avenue on Friday.
In the final week of the season, the Redskins are welcoming Eastside and Putnam County to their home turf as the final tests before the postseason commences.
Knight stressed that, despite the desire to win the region, the Redskins aren’t overlooking the significance of each remaining match going toward their bigger goal of a playoff run.
“We need to shape up,” Knight said. “The non-region games we have are very tough and we need to take that opportunity to learn before playoffs. After our region games, we have Putnam and Eastside and those are two very good teams.
“We need those games.”