Photo by Derrick Mahone
Jonesboro junior ManPhotos by Derrick Mahone
Jonesboro junior Manasseh Campbell is the Cardinals’ leading scorer heading into today’s Class AAAA playoff match in Cairo.asseh Campbell is the Cardinals’ leading scorer heading into today’s Class AAAA playoff match in Cairo.
JONESBORO — Before Jonesboro boy’s soccer team meet Cairo this evening in the first round of the Class AAAA tournament, the Cardinals will have make a long trip.
Jonesboro will set out around 9:30 a.m. for a nearly five-hour trek to Cairo.
But Cardinals coach Paul Cook is not concerned that his team will suffer from any travel lag. Thanks to a group of sponsors, the Cardinals have chartered a motorcoach bus for their playoff journey into South Georgia.
“I think we are ready as we can be at this point,” Cook said. “We won’t have to ride the big cheese, so I think we won’t be as tired.”
Although Jonesboro is the No. 4 seed from the region, Cook says he gives his team an equal chance of defeating a No. 1 seed.
“We look at it as we are the best team in our region,” Cook said.
And that confidence has apparently spilled over to his players.
“We are really looking forward to going further in the playoffs,” said Francisco Ortiz, a senior team captain. “This team just keeps fighting to the end. We don’t stop until the final whistle has blown.”
And that was evident last week when the Cardinals clinched a 2-1 double overtime victory on Riverdale last week to secure a playoff spot. Leading scorer Manasseh Campbell scored the game-winning goal with 59 seconds remaining. On the season, he has 15 goals.
Although he has another season at Jonesboro, Campbell said he is leaving nothing to chance this evening.
“I’m taking this as if it is my last match,” Campbell said. “If we lose, this is the final game of the year.”
And the end of Cook’s coaching career.
He will retire from teaching after 30 years of service. Next season, coach-in-waiting Carlos Del Amo will take over for the Cardinals.
But Cook and the team is not yet ready for this season to end.
“We are trying to win for coach Cook,” Ortiz said. “We want him to go out with a bang.”
Jonesboro is the last soccer team left in the postseason. On Tuesday, Lovejoy girls team lost to Newnan.
“We are the only ones left to represent the county,” Cook said. “I think the team is pretty excited about the opportunity.”