Southeast Whitfield High School’s boys soccer team is coming off what assistant coach Victor Rodriguez believes is the Raiders’ best effort of the season.
He believes a repeat performance will send them back to the semifinals after a one-year absence.
Southeast (11-4-1) travels to Hampton to face Dutchtown (12-4) at 3:30 p.m. today in the Class 4A state quarterfinals, the third straight season the Raiders have reached at least the quarterfinals. They lost in this round last season and fell in the semifinals two years ago.
The No. 3 seed from Region 7-4A and the seventh-ranked team in eurosportscoreboard.com’s Class 4A poll, Southeast trounced Chamblee 4-1 in last week’s first round and dominated Carrollton — at the time the No. 2 team in Class 4A — for a 6-1 win in Wednesday’s second round.
“I think that was the best game we played the whole year,” Rodriguez said. “The guys were looking forward to it and were pumped. We got there and did our job, scoring in the first minute. They were hungry and wanted it more than Carrollton.
“I think a good showing carries over — not necessarily the game but the way we practice day by day and intensity. That’s what carries over into the game.”
The Raiders will play their second straight game without head coach Kevin Kettenring, who will be out again due to a commitment he had scheduled before taking the head coaching job prior to the season’s start. Southeast athletic director Mark Lentych would not discuss the details of the commitment when asked earlier this week, and attempts to reach Kettenring have been unsuccessful.
Southeast scored four goals versus Carrollton off deep throw-ins and held a 4-1 advantage at halftime.
“I think it’s the best game we played in terms of giving it all we had,” said senior Jorge Hurtado, a center midfielder. “We were running, sprinting and giving it all we had. We were going there to get a win and we got it.”
Dutchtown, the Region 2 runner-up, beat Americus-Sumter 4-1 in the first round and survived 1-0 versus Howard in the second round.
The Bulldogs lost 10-1 to Class 6A’s Meadowcreek on Feb. 28, then followed that with a 4-0 loss to Class 5A’s Forest Park and a 5-1 loss to Spalding in the Region 2-4A opener.
In the 11 matches since, Dutchtown only has allowed two goals in a match twice and has won all of its games save a 1-0 loss to Upson-Lee on March 29.
“They made the final eight, so you can’t expect little from them,” Rodriguez said. “All (the scouting reports) said they are good with the ball, will play hard and play their best.”
If the Raiders win, they would make their shortest road trip of the playoffs, going to Northwest Whit-field, a 5-1 winner at Mary Persons on Friday. The Raiders and Bruins have split their two games this season.
Dalton, the other area team still alive in the Class 4A bracket, plays Jonesboro at 12:30 p.m. today to reach the other semifinal. The Cats would host the winner of today’s match between Alexander and Spalding.
“We hope (the Bruins) win and we hope we win as well,” Rodriguez said on Friday afternoon. “We’re looking forward to it. ... I hope Dalton wins as well. In the semifinals, it’d be three from the Dalton area. That would show how good the quality of soccer is in this area.”