When this year started, it was doubtful that Dobyns-Bennett soccer would amount to anything. With the loss of a senior and a close friend of mine, Jon Metcalf, a new coach in Shane Calvert and a new style of play left the beginning of this season unknown.
Soon we saw something out of a team that we haven't seen in a long time: unity. This team had this characteristic more than any other team I've seen in four years at Dobyns-Bennett.
The trek started in a preseason tournament in Georgia, where the Tribe played themselves into the finals. Then they returned to Kingsport to play their out of conference games, which they dominated.
When I first joined this site, my first stories were about the Palmetto Cup Classic. D-B was playing in on spring break in Columbia, S.C.
Here, the Tribe didn't lose one game, but yet won one and tied 3 more. The three ties came against the No. 2, 4, and 5 teams in the state of South Carolina.
In a controversial ending to the third tie, the Tribe was left out of the finals bracket and settled to play for fifth place when they had played better than that the whole week.
The beginning of April saw the start of the conference season, D-B was picked behind rivals South and Science Hill. Out of the gate, the Tribe quickly showed the conference that they weren't going to settle for that. The Tribe rolled off eight quick wins.
The Jon Metcalf Invitational showed again how much of a great Team the Tribe is. They beat Crockett easily in the opening game, then beat Seymoure 2-1 in the last 15 seconds on a free kick from Bryce Herlong that was headed in by Colton Clark.
The Tribe then beat Greeneville 2-1 but lost Senior Ray Menya to a broken leg. Come Sunday, the Tribe was playing in the championship game of their own tournament, in a hard fought game where it saw plenty of goals. Dobyns-Bennett won 5-3.
After talking to Coach Cal, he said he had never felt better in his life to win this tournament not just for the team, but for Jon, who I'm sure was looking over the game the whole time.
The Tribe did not miss a beat coming out of the tournament, taking down more conference opponents. Highlights included wins over Science Hill and South.
This gave them an undefeated conference record and the regular season title by beating the two teams picked to finish ahead of them in preseason.
Before you knew it, this past week was senior night, honoring all senior players, including Jon Metcalf. On Senior night, D-B faced a physical Greenville team again, a team questioned for dirty play when Menya broke his leg.
Coming out that night, the Tribe was more physical than ever and took home the win on senior night 4-1.
Also they faced Bearden, who is No. 6 in the state, with the Tribe fifth. Coming into this game, I knew they were focused by the way they were focused on the trip down.
"They were focused," said Coach Cal. "We were just not expecting them to play us with their best game, and we were flat."
Coach was disappointed with the way they played Wednesday night in Knoxville but also said it was a learning curve for the team.
Talking to my fellow seniors they were disappointed in themselves, but they knew they could bounce back and be just fine. It seemed now stress had taken over after playing the most games in the state and only losing one game.
The coaches sensed the anxiety and Thursday's practice was football, the American style. The players told me it was great to chill out and just play something fun.
With Friday and the weekend off, the pace will quicken again Monday afternoon with practice both Monday and Tuesday in preparation on a District semifinal game against the winner of Tennessee High and South. The finals are set for Friday night at 7 p.m. in Johnson City.
With full confidence, I will say that the guys are ready to win a tournament title and move on to regional play. I will keep everyone posted on the remainder of the season.
Thanks for taking the time to read this column its greatly appreciated.