The majority of Scottsboro fans gathered just off the still-wet Gilbreath Stadium field at Oneonta High School in the now drying asphalt track.
As SHS boys soccer players, individually or in groups, made their way across the field toward the gate, the fans showered them with applause.
The players’ tears turned into appreciation, their heartbrokenness giving way to reality of their accomplishment. The Scottsboro varsity boys soccer team, just two years into existence, was two seconds away from going to penalty kicks with No. 6-ranked Oneonta during the teams’ first-round playoff match. That scenario was out of the realm of possibility just two years ago when high school soccer existed only at schools in neighboring counties. It seemed like just dreamer’s dream when the program actually started because upstarts, even with talent, typically take several seasons to find their footing against established programs.
Scottsboro’s soccer program — its girls team also team made its playoff debut with a hard-fought 4-1 loss — has quickly found its footing. Head coach Patrick Laney didn’t want to follow the typical new-program schedule on the road to competitiveness. When he started selling the idea of making the playoffs in Year 2, the players were buying while some observers necessarily weren’t.
With playoff appearances in reach, both SHS teams clinched spots in dramatic fashions, the players on both teams securing their place in Scottsboro soccer history. Wins Thursday would’ve been icing on the cake. Win or lose, however, Scottsboro soccer has established itself.
“We played great (against Oneonta) and had our chances,” Laney said. “This is all this has been about these two years, the kids having their chance.”
They’ve made the most of that chance to play. Playing in the postseason 14 months after playing its first games indicate what Scottsboro’s soccer program can be in the future.
Laney is grateful to the players who “laid the foundation. There will never be a year that it won’t be about what they accomplished this year,” he said. “They’ll be remembered forever.”
The last applause of the night was for Laney. He pointed at the players, as if trying to redirect the clapping. Judging by the progress made in just two seasons, there will be much more applause on the way for Scottsboro Soccer.