In Matt Martin, the Douglas County boys soccer team has its third head coach in as many seasons, but the expectation of extending the school’s streak of consecutive state tournament berths, now at three, remains.
After two years of leading the Douglas County girls to state tournament appearances, Martin is familiar with the boys program. His first season at Douglas County was in 2014, the same season the boys team made it to the Class AAAAAA Final Four.
“That was a fun team to watch,” Martin said. “They were very good, very skill. […] I built some pretty good relationships with them while I was the girls coach.”
Martin replaces John Farmer who replaced the coach of the 2014 team, John Cunningham. Cunningham became the baseball team’s head coach, while Farmer has since joined the baseball program’s coaching staff.
The Tigers followed their Final Four appearance with a first-round showing at state a season ago, which Martin was also able to keep an eye on as well.
“Last year coach Farmer did a good job with those guys and I was able to watch and see how they were doing,” Martin said.
Gone are 11 seniors from last year’s team so Martin is looking for his seniors to provide motivation this year. Forward Dishawn Cullen, a Georgia Southern signee, and defender Jamal Thompson are two of those seniors.
“We’re looking for some heavy leadership qualities out of both of those young men,” Martin said.”
Martin also said he would like to see senior Defender Oliver Inscoe step up and be a vocal leader on the team.
Helping the seniors and Martin is the fact that Douglas County has some really good juniors and underclassmen in the program. That was something Martin could see watching the program last season.
“The JV bunch was really strong,” he said. “That’s what really attracted me to [the job]. There’s good young talent coming through for the boys.”
One of those good young players is actually a freshman. Striker Tyler Thomas showed his worth earlier in the season as he scored the game-winning goal in a 2-1 victory over Alexander.
“He’s going to be one of our better players,” Martin said of Thomas.
Martin also sees junior forward Rene Perez as being a big contributor and sophomore Defender Elder Chirinos as being one of the better players on the team.
“We’re really excited about this season and about the challenge coming up,” Martin said. “We’re moving in the right direction.”
Martin’s plan for building on the success of the boys team is the same one he used to take the girls team deep into the state tournament.
“When I took over the girls two years ago my biggest thing was to finish first [or] second in the region and start hosting playoff games,” Martin said. “We hosted three playoff games my first year and we hosted two last year.”
That will be a tough task this season as East Coweta is expected to be very formidable.
“East Coweta is definitely the team to beat,” Martin said. “Pebblebrook’s going to be solid, Campbell’s going to be solid, and South Cobb is going to be good as well. It’s going to be a tough task. East Coweta’s a very good team. I would like to get that second seed if we’re not able to [finish first].”
Martin is thankful for school’s athletic director Albert Lindsey for giving him the opportunity to coach the boys and is hopeful about the season.
“We’re very excited to represent Douglas County,” Martin said. “We’re really expecting to do really good things, not only in the county, but in the region.”