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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Taylor is named to All-State first team

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

(Photo)
Blake Taylor
SIKESTON -- Several members of Sikeston's district champion soccer team were honored with postseason recognition.

While many individual accolades were garnered by the Bulldogs, the team also reached new heights.

Sikeston, following up its first district championship in 2004 with another in 2005, finished the season ranked No. 10 -- equaling its loftiest-ever ranking in '04 -- in the Class 2 soccer poll with a 13-11 record.

"Two straight years in the top 10 is kind of cool," said Sikeston coach Derrick Long. "We raised the bar (in 2004) and came into the season to prove that it wasn't a fluke year. Now, that's the standard."

Individually, Blake Taylor, the Bulldogs' scoring leader, hit an awards' grand slam with first team selections on the all-state, all-region, all-district and all-

conference teams.

Taylor, a junior forward, led Sikeston scoring -- second straight year -- with 40 points on 28 goals and 12 assists, also a team high. He had eight game-

winning shots.

"He's well deserving of it," said Long, of Taylor's all-state pick. "Last year, as a sophomore, I thought he was slighted by just making honorable mention. He was our go-to guy all season, a team co-captain and definitely a leader for us.

"(J.R.) Bizzell was our first to make first team all-state (in 2004), as well as all-region, all-district and all-conference. He came into his own as a senior, so it's nice to have Blake coming into his own in his junior year, so we have him for another season.

"With him, it's not all speed. He has all the intangibles, (he) does great things in the air and, defensively, he made a lot of saves for us on the opponent's corner kicks. He does all the little things right. He's going to be a force for us next year."

Scott Droddy, Scott Gardner, Ryan Beaird, Andrew Box and Chris Carnell were chosen to the SEMO All-Conference second team. Beaird and Carnell were also first team all-district.

Senior defender Beaird, also a co-captain, was the acknowledged team leader.

"He's going to be a big piece out of the puzzle next year," Long said. "He controlled our defense as the center-fullback (stopper) and set the tone with his aggressive play. He let teams know that we weren't going to back down."

Senior forward Gardner was second in scoring and tied for runner-up in assists with nine goals and 11 helpers. He netted two game-wining goals.

"He did a really good job for us after a move from defender to forward," said Long. "He's got a powerful left foot and he's a good complement to Blake's speed with his moves and knack for finding the proper position to pass.

"His field sense and knowledge of the game were tremendous assets."

Junior midfielder Carnell was the third-leading scorer with six goals and tied for second in assists with 11.

"The gym rat," said Long. "He's just going to get better. He's got some amazing ball skills, knows the game and was always in the right spot. He makes things happen, and often, it goes unnoticed, but he does a lot of the dirty work that helps other guys get the glory."

Senior midfielder Box was the third co-captain and a relentless defender.

Said Long, "He's a great marking midfielder. He was one of the main reasons that we won the district championship. He's one of those guys that you can put on somebody and you know the guy won't get any quality shots."

Box, along with Hunter Dillender, shut down Frankie Ellis, one of Notre Dame's prime scoring threats, in the district final.

Sophomore Droddy, in his second season as the starting goalkeeper, recorded 288 saves, allowed only 36 goals and posted seven shutouts. With Droddy in goal, the Bulldogs were 12-9.

"Heck, we wouldn't have won half the games we won without him," said Long. "He was our focal point on the defensive side. I thought he got overlooked (in postseason awards), but there was a keeper at Notre Dame that had 17 shutouts, so it's hard to compete with those stats. I think next year will be a big coming-out year for him and he'll get some awards that he really deserves.

"He's an amazing athlete and, the last two years, he's been great for us and he's just getting better."

Freshman midfielder Timmy Hart was an honorable mention choice on the SEMO All-Conference team and a second team all-district selection, one of only two freshmen to be so honored.

"He's gotten a lot of praise from area coaches," said Long. "Timmy's a heck of an athlete. He's hard on himself and really pushes himself. As a freshman, we were trying to protect him a little bit at the start of the season and let him ease into it, but now I'd put him anywhere, with confidence. We put him in goal one game and he did great there. We're looking for good things from him the next three years."

Other SEMO Conference, Class 2 all-state first teamers were Cape Girardeau Notre Dame's Andrew Buelow, a senior defender, and Ellis, a senior midfielder.