Huntington Hale is PCA’s first soccer all-star

Published 9:29 am Thursday, March 3, 2016

When the list of the best soccer players in the state is compiled, Huntington Hale’s name is not one that immediately springs to mind.

The Porters Chapel Academy senior plays a position, defensive midfielder, that doesn’t allow him to score a lot of goals. He plays on a team that only won a couple of games this season, and for a program that fields a co-ed squad which has been put on hiatus twice in the past decade because of lack of interest.

Hale, though, has earned a spot on the list. On Friday he’ll become PCA’s first soccer all-star when he plays in the MAIS boys soccer all-star game.

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The game begins at 4 p.m. at Madison-Ridgeland Academy. St. Aloysius’ Lofton Varner and Casey Griffith, as well as St. Al coach Scott Mathis, were also selected.

“I guess it’s exciting to be one of the first ones to stand out. I wasn’t expecting it,” Hale said of his selection.

PCA’s soccer program has never been one of the state’s best. Its roster includes both boys and girls because there aren’t enough players to field a team full of either. It plays in the boys’ division, however, and the makeshift team has predictably struggled throughout its history. After first starting more than a decade ago, it has skipped several seasons when there weren’t enough players to field a team.

Hale was one of the students who pushed to reinstate the program before the 2014-15 season. He was a captain for two years, but as one of the few players with soccer experience he said it’s been difficult.

“It’s hard. It’s hard to help them because you want to help (teammates) every minute and you can’t,” Hale said. “I was a captain and had to teach them. Instead of getting mad, you have to explain it to them in depth.”

A lot of high school teams use their best, most experienced players on defense and PCA was no exception when it came to Hale. He was responsible for anchoring the Eagles’ back line and didn’t get a lot of time in the spotlight.

He only scored one goal this season and assisted on two others. He had three goals and five assists in 2014-15.

Hale said he just tried to do his best and enjoy the game, more than worrying about personal glory or the struggles of the team.

“I gave it all I had the whole time,” he said. “Even though we were getting the crap beat out of us, I hustled. I worked my butt of the last two years to get this organization started.”

Although he’s being recognized as one of the best players in the MAIS, the all-star game will be Hale’s last competitive soccer game. He said he was lightly recruited by Meridian Community College, but not enough to seriously pursue an offer. He’ll instead go to college next season — “probably” to Mississippi State, he said — and enjoy college life and deer hunting instead of the grind of another season.

“After I figured out how much they practice, I realized it wasn’t for me. I want to go to college and experience it,” he said with a laugh. “Plus deer season is during soccer season. I want to go hunting.”

MAIS Boys Soccer All-Star Game

Friday, 4 p.m., at Madison-Ridgeland Academy

Admission: $8

Local flavor: Porters Chapel’s Huntington Hale, and St. Aloysius’ Casey Griffith and Lofton Varner will all play in the game. St. Al’s Scott Mathis will be one of the coaches.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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