Theriot’s scoring powered St. Al to another state championship

Published 8:00 am Sunday, March 31, 2019

In most years, the kind of season Ryan Theriot had in 2018 would have made him a runaway winner for any player of the year award.

The striker scored 49 goals and led his team to its first state championship.

There was, however, someone even better and Theriot did not win The Vicksburg Post’s boys soccer Player of the Year award. So Theriot did the only thing he could — come back and have an even better year.

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Theriot scored 55 goals this season and led St. Aloysius to another MAIS Class AAA championship. There was no one better or more important to their team’s success this time, and in 2019 Theriot was an easy selection for The Post’s top local high school soccer honor.

Theriot is the first St. Al player since Michael Head in 2003 to win The Post’s boys’ Player of the Year award.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Theriot said of his and the Flashes’ performance this season. “We lost one senior last year, and we knew we had a shot to do it again this year. Watching it all come together like it did last year was pretty amazing. I came up short last year with 49, and to finally hit 55 and win another championship, there’s not a better way to go out.”

How Theriot went out was with one of the most remarkable two-year runs imaginable. He scored 104 goals and led St. Al to back-to-back Class AAA championships — the first two boys soccer state titles in school history.

After winning the first title in 2018, Theriot said he and the Flashes knew they had a great chance to repeat. Only one senior starter, midfielder Jack Dowe, had graduated. The Flashes lost an early-season match against Jackson Academy, tied one other, and won the rest. They finished the season with a 17-game unbeaten streak and a 21-1-1 record.

“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.”

Leading the way was Theriot, who did not play striker until his junior year. Coach Scott Mathis said he needed the lanky Theriot’s speed and skill more on defense a few years ago, but as other players developed on that end he was able to move Theriot up front.

“He was just so good in the back that you couldn’t move him. We didn’t have a strong defense like we had the last few years,” Mathis said. “He was one of those players that you can put anywhere in the field and they play the same way. They understand defense, and if you understand defense you understand everything else. When I found out he was a true striker, that’s all it took.”

Like most soccer players, Theriot said he always enjoys scoring goals. Even he was surprised at how well he took to it, though,

“It was something I wouldn’t have ever thought of before last year,” he said. “I just look at the goal and have tunnel vision. People say that’s a bad thing, but it’s also a good thing because you attack and attack and just wear people out. It was really important to me, but winning was the most important thing.”

Theriot also credited the players around him with making him better. His brother Kieran, for example, had 38 assists over the past two seasons — most of them to Ryan — and was an all-county selection in his own right.

In the back half of the formation, standout defenders like Lee Hanks, Connor Smith, Carson Collier and Ethan Bagby locked down opponents and pushed the ball back the other way, frequently leading to breakaway opportunities.

Theriot said defenses tried to key on him, but his teammates’ ability ensured it didn’t work most of the time.

“We have players that are good enough to where that doesn’t matter,” Theriot said. “Like Kieran, he’s a facilitator. He’ll dribble down the whole field and they’ll forget about me. They’ll triple-team Kieran and he’ll drop it off to me and we’ll score. It’s tough for teams to just lock down me, because we had so many players that could do it.”

Too many weapons. Too many stars. Too many good players doing their jobs and filling their roles. Theriot’s was to be the closer, the scorer. When all of them did things right, few teams in Mississippi on any level were better.

Theriot said they all realized that, too, and appreciated the two-year ride they went on together.

“When I was in seventh grade, I wanted to win championships here,” Theriot said. “Now that that was a reality, it’s pretty amazing, and to do it with the same guys two years in a row is pretty special.”

Vicksburg Post boys soccer Players of the Year
2019 – Ryan Theriot, St. Aloysius
2018 – Braylen Greer, Warren Central
2017 – Braylen Greer, Warren Central
2016 – John Austin Burris, Warren Central
2015 – Nick Wright, Warren Central
2014 – Chris Kurtz, Warren Central
2013 – Garrett Watson, Vicksburg
2012 – Chandler Bounds, Warren Central
2011 – Erik Chappell, Warren Central
2010 – Tim Hoeptner, Warren Central
2009 – Erik Chappell, Warren Central
2008 – Bowen Woodson, Vicksburg
2007 – Cameron Curtis, Vicksburg
2006 – Michael Cooper, Vicksburg
2005 – Michael Cooper, Vicksburg
2004 – Luke Sellers, Warren Central
2003 – Michael Head, St. Aloysius
2002 – Michael Head, St. Aloysius
2001 – Andy Gough, St. Aloysius
2000 – Chad Henley, Warren Central
1999 – Mark Titre, Vicksburg

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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