Mathis leaves St. Al on top of his game

Published 7:50 am Sunday, March 31, 2019

When Scott Mathis took over as St. Aloysius’ boys soccer coach, the program had a long history of being good but not good enough.

Stuck in a division with perennial MHSAA powers Madison-St. Joseph or St. Andrew’s, and sometimes both, the Flashes often had competitive and even strong teams but struggled to even make the playoffs let alone with championships.

Six years later, Mathis has changed that. As he exits, St. Al is in a different association and a different spot. He’s stepping down after putting three MAIS championships in the trophy case — one for the girls team and two with the boys — and a third Vicksburg Post soccer Coach of the Year award on his resumé.

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“The first two years I was here we were in the MHSAA and we’d get to that final game and just never get over the hump,” said Mathis, who also won The Post’s Coach of the Year award in 2016 and 2018. “We were stuck with those stronger schools and weren’t meant for those divisions. Now we are. That’s where we took off. It’s kind of a powerhouse now. Schools look at our school as a soccer powerhouse. Girls, boys, it doesn’t matter. That’s what we’ve built together. It’s not just me, it’s everybody.”

Mathis coached St. Al’s girls’ team to the MAIS Class AAA championship in 2015 and back to the semifinals in 2017. His work schedule forced him to pass the reins to Jessie Tate for the 2018 season, but he left the Lady Flashes in a good enough spot that they were able to add a second state championship.

“I was proud of (the girls) for winning last year. I went to a lot of their games,” Mathis said. “It was great, especially to see those (seniors) go out the way they did.”

Mathis remained as the boys’ coach and went out with the best season in school history.

The Flashes went 17-1-1 in the 2018-19 campaign, with the only loss coming to Class AAAA power Jackson Academy in November. They were undefeated in their last 17 games and beat Heritage Academy 2-0 in the Class AAA championship game in February.

“It’s about winning. That’s how I was brought up. I don’t like second place. Second place to me is first loser. I was an Army Ranger for six years, and that’s my mentality. Trying to get it into these kids, it takes a while,” Mathis said.

By the time they got rolling, the Flashes had few peers. A 2-1 victory in the Class AAA semifinals against Central Hinds — when Ryan Theriot scored the game-winning goal in the final seconds of regulation — was one of the few times they were seriously challenged during the winning streak.

The Flashes were favorites to win the state title all season long, and thanks to the foundation laid by Mathis they were able to handle it.

“All season we thought that, since we were coming back with so much experience and other teams were losing a lot of good seniors too,” Theriot said. “There was a lot of pressure, especially with the girls winning (a state championship). We saw it all along that we had a shot to win. We handled it and I’m proud of everyone on the team.”

2019 – Scott Mathis, St. Aloysius
2018 – Scott Mathis, St. Aloysius
2017 – Greg Head, Warren Central
2016 – Scott Mathis, St. Aloysius
2015 – Karen Carroll, Vicksburg
2014 – Greg Head, Warren Central
2013 – Greg Head, Warren Central
2012 – Greg Head, Warren Central
2011 – Trey Banks, Warren Central
2010 – Keiko Booth, St. Aloysius
2009 – Kevin Manton, Vicksburg
2008 – Jason Bennett, Vicksburg
2007 – Jason Bennett, Vicksburg
2006 – Karen Carroll, St. Aloysius
2005 – Jason Bennett, Vicksburg
2004 – Kristin Gough, Warren Central
2003 – Kevin Manton, Vicksburg
2002 – Kevin Manton, Vicksburg
2001 – Shirley Agostinelli, St. Aloysius
2000 – Jay Harrison, Warren Central
1999 – Kevin Manton, VHS and Lucy Young, WC

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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