Jorge Hurtado already knows what he’ll tell his teammates.
He’ll tell the Southeast Whitfield High School boys soccer team it can beat Dalton without him.
For the Raiders, Hurtado’s is one of the more unfortunate stories to unfold in this year’s Georgia High School Association Class 4A state tournament.
He’s a senior. He’s a captain.
But he won’t be on the field for tonight’s 7:30 state title match at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton. And it’s all because of what happened in the closing minutes of Southeast’s 2-0 semifinals win on Wednesday at Northwest Whitfield.
“It was a mistake,” Hurtado said. “My mistake.”
With two minutes left in overtime and his team already holding a two-goal lead, the midfielder was fouled by Northwest’s Orlando Altimirano. Hurtado retaliated by picking up the ball and throwing it in the direction of Altimirano.
The center referee issued Altimirano a yellow card as Hurtado clapped his hands and smiled at his bench. When he turned back to the field, the referee was standing in front of Hurtado holding a red card.
According to the GHSA’s Constitution and By-Laws, any player who receives a red card is suspended for the following match in addition to not being able to finish the match in which he was carded. In other words, Hurtado will miss the state championship game.
“We cried after that game,” said Raiders coach Kevin Kettenring, who said there is no appeals process for such suspensions. “It was horrible, just horrible. We felt bad the whole ride home. I hurt for him. We all do. That’s not what Jorge is. That’s not what he’s about. It’s just one of those odd things in this game that’s just unfortunate. I thought it was a lot harsh based on what actually happened as opposed to what didn’t happen.”
Even though Hurtado won’t be in uniform tonight, he practiced with the team on Thursday. And Hurtado already had his pregame speech ready to go. His message to the team is simple: You don’t need me.
“They can do it by themselves,” he said. “I’m not a factor. (Dalton) is good, but if we want it more than they do, I believe we can beat them even without me.
“You just have to play physical. That’s for sure. Dalton is a physical team. You have to match up with that.”
Hurtado has been a member of the varsity program since his freshman year and played for three seasons under former coach Jamison Griffin, who resigned after last season to take an administrative position at Tennessee’s East Hamilton High School.
“I brought him, Alex Rosillo and Jesus Leon up (for practice) when they were eighth-graders,” said Griffin, who was at Wednesday’s game. “For four years, he had a role on the field and was very good at that role. His last game will be in a different role, but still part of the team.”
Kettenring said Hurtado, whom he labeled “the speaking captain,” can ride on the bus with the team but cannot sit on the sidelines. He’ll become Southeast’s biggest cheerleader. The team’s other captains are senior midfielder/striker Rosillo and sophomore defender Isael Gutierrez.
“When he got the red card, I got mad and went toward him,” Rosillo said. “I apologized because I cussed at him. ... Everyone makes dumb decisions, not just him.”
In Southeast’s three matches this season with Dalton (21-0), the Catamounts have swept with a combined 8-1 score. The lone goal by Southeast (13-4-1), in a 3-1 loss in March, came on a header from Hurtado.
“He’s the real captain of this team,” Gutierrez said. “He’s a vocal player and does everything on the field and off the field.”
Hurtado was an honorable mention to The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Boys Soccer team last season, during which he had 10 goals and eight assists. He helped Southeast beat Dalton twice, win Region 7-3A for a second consecutive season and reach the Class 3A quarterfinals.
But bringing the first state championship to Southeast will be out of Hurtado’s control.
Would he take back his choice to pick up and throw that ball?
“I want to say ‘Yes,’ but I want to say ‘No,’” he said. “No, because it happened for a reason, I guess. And yes, because I want to play in the championship match.
“I guess it was a call. There’s nothing you can do about it now.”
Jorge Hurtado already knows what he’ll tell his teammates.
- Southeast High School Raiders
Bringing in the best
When high school football coaches look for events to take their teams to during the summer, they are looking for three things — top competition, organization and hospitality.
For The Daily Citizen’s Southeastern 7-on-7 Championship, the Dalton community and local business leaders take care of the latter. The tournament officials work tirelessly to provide the organization. And the two combined assure the top competition will show up.
In the lineup again
When Northwest Whitfield repeated as the Georgia High School Association Class 4A softball state champion last fall, that appeared to be the last time the majority of the Lady Bruins’ senior class would be teammates on the diamond.
Now, thanks to the Stump on Sports All-Star Softball Classic, five of those six seniors will reunite to play together one more time.
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Despite giving up a few strokes from Monday’s opening round of 4-over-par 76, Dalton’s Landon Hicks was the only local competitor to advance to the third round of the Georgia Junior Championships.
All-Area Spring Female Team: Salinas hoping things keep getting better and better with age
Isabel Salinas’ freshman season for Southeast Whitfield High School’s track and field team wasn’t up to her standards, and she really isn’t sure why it ended up that way in 2013. It could have been her injuries. It could have been not being in proper shape.
One thing Salinas, nicknamed “Izzy” by friends and coaches, does know is that her sophomore year went a lot better.
All-Area Baseball Team and Player of the Year
As a freshman at Northwest Whitfield High School, Seth Pierce came out of nowhere and was as dominant a pitcher as the area had. Finishing his “rookie” season with the Bruins, the left-handed Pierce led the area with nine victories — he also had one save — and showed overpowering dominance with a 9-3 record and 89 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings. He finished his first season on the hill in Tunnel Hill with a 1.71 ERA while allowing 61 hits and 23 walks. Those numbers were also recorded against competition in a higher classification as the Bruins were playing Class 4A ball when the state had just five classifications. His performance earned him honors as 2012 The Daily Citizen All-Area Baseball Player of the Year.
State soccer: Raiders come up a goal short
GAINESVILLE — Southeast Whitfield High School’s boys soccer team needed at least one break to go its way against Johnson-Gainesville in Tuesday’s Class 4A state semifinals.
Even when the Raiders believed they had earned a break, they didn’t receive the credit.
Prep boys soccer: Different routes for Dalton, SE
The boys soccer teams at Dalton and Southeast Whitfield high schools are eyeing a return to the Class 4A state title game.
But while they share a common ambition, the routes the Catamounts and Raiders must take to reach the championship on May 17 at Kennesaw State University are taking a different turn tonight.
Prep volleyball: SE libero Paloblanco to Temple
In volleyball, the libero position is limited to playing on the back row and specializes in defensive contributions.
Southeast Whitfield High School senior Yasmeen Paloblanco wasn’t limited in what she meant to the Lady Raiders, though, and her ability to excel as a libero is helping her remain on the court as she heads to college.
Since he was very young, Southeast Whitfield High School senior Rhett Harper has often had a ball in his hand, with another game to play or a practice somewhere on his calendar.
Sectionals for sisters
TUNNEL HILL — When you consider all of the hours of practice, all of the years of gymnastics training and the physical demands of being a cheerleader, the last word you would expect to hear an athlete use to describe herself is “lazy.”
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