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Jonesboro boys soccer extends its coach’s career

Cardinals’ overtime victory secures playoff berth

Photo by Derrick Mahone
Jonesboro coach Paul Cook is not quite ready for retirement as the Cardinals will participant in the Class AAAA soccer players next week. After the season, Cook will retire after 30 years of teaching in the county.

Photo by Derrick Mahone Jonesboro coach Paul Cook is not quite ready for retirement as the Cardinals will participant in the Class AAAA soccer players next week. After the season, Cook will retire after 30 years of teaching in the county.

JONESBORO — Hollywood probably couldn’t have scripted the finish to the Jonesboro boy’s soccer match any better than the way it ended on Monday evening.

With the score tied at 1-1 against visiting Riverdale, Cardinals sophomore Manasseh Campbell scored from the left side of the goal to give them the win with 59 seconds remaining in overtime. It was the final regular season game of the season.

But the win has prolonged the Cardinals season as they are in next month’s playoff. But more importantly, retiring coach Paul Cook gets to coach at least one more match.

“Forget what we did in the regular season, because that doesn’t matter now,” Cook told his team moments after the match. “Any loss from here on out ends our season.”

And sends the veteran coach into retirement.

“This is a family,” Campbell said. “Coach Cook has been great. We wanted to keep playing for him.”

Jonesboro opens the Georgia High School Association’s Class AAAA playoffs on May 1 on the road against an undetermined opponent. It hardly matters who the Cardinals would play, they are just get to make the postseason again.

“The guys knew this was my last year,” said Cook, who has been at the school for 12 years. “We have some talent on this team. We only have three seniors, so there will be a lot of talent back.”

That talent will be coached by coach-in-waiting Carlos Del Amo. He will inherit a team that finished the regular season with a 9-4-1 record.

“We have a good group of kids,” Amo said. “I think they work hard.”

After giving the team off Tuesday following the big win, Jonesboro will be back at practice today preparing for the postseason. The goal is to continue Cook’s coaching tenure for at least another game.

“We want to keep playing,” Campbell said.

“This group has really played like a team,” Cook said. “It is not just one or two players, we are getting some production by everyone. They don’t care who scores, they just want to win.”

The three losses in the region have come against Dutchtown, Spalding and Upson-Lee, all by one goal each. Jonesboro lost to Spalding in the closing seconds.

Cook said he thought it could be a good season after the first game — a win in the freezing rain against Tri-Cities.

“We sort of owned Tri-Cities so I knew we had some talent,” Cook said. “We didn’t set goals, we just set out to win games. It is going to be tough walking away from here because I’ve worked in the county all my career.”