SIKESTON -- Sikeston soccer standout Blake Taylor has signed a letter of intent to play with East Central Junior College in Union, Mo.
After four years under head coach Derrick Long, Taylor is headed to the next level of play, where his former head coach thinks he will make an immediate impact in practices as well as games.
"Blake has always had a never-quit attitude. We always have a high level of practices here. Two hours of conditioning every day is our routine," Long said.
When asked what made him stand out in practices, Long replied, "Blake's always been a bulldog. He'll be a bulldog there just as well, in practices and games. He'll take over the practices there."
Coach Long says that a lot of times young players can go to bigger schools and get burned-out quickly on the game by not starting or seeing a lot of action on the field. He says that East Central will be a great starter school for Taylor, and that he will be able to showcase his talents easily there. He believes that Taylor will adapt well and will likely transfer to a bigger school in two or three years.
"Blake was always a forward here for us, but he can run a lot. Schools look for that in a young talent, and he's got what it takes to be a midfielder at the next level. I look for him to be playing there to start out," Long said.
But Taylor isn't just a soccer player that can run. He also has good ball skills to go with that speed.
"He's always been able to control the ball really well, and that's what the college level schools are interested in, but he'll just have to go see what all they have, and figure out his role, and see where he will fit in to be the biggest benefit to the team," Long added.
Coach Long likes Taylor's chances going in to the fall season, stating that "Blake's always been a quick learner, has a high level of play, and will probably start at the next level."
As a senior, Taylor became the first two-time all-state soccer player in school history at Sikeston. He was chosen as first-team forward for the second year in a row, and led the Bulldogs to the Class 2, District 1 championship match. As a sophomore he was an honorable mention all-state selection after leading Sikeston to its second straight district championship.
He holds numerous school records for the Bulldogs, including career goals (96), career assists (58), career points (250), season goals (30, tied with Adam Garrett, '02), season points (80) and goals in a game (6).