Dave Morgan deserves a medal. Or a badge. Something.
The Lakeside boys soccer coach faced one adverse situation after another this season. Still, he managed to put together one of his best coaching jobs.
"Considering all the stuff he dealt with, I think he did an outstanding job," Aquinas coach Kevin Kennedy said.
Some schools had better records than Lakeside. Aquinas and Greenbrier each went 20-2 with state semifinal appearances. South Aiken went 16-6 and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs.
The Panthers won just nine games and lost 11. But the record is misleading.
Lakeside played one of the toughest schedules around and still advanced to the second round of the Class AAAA playoffs. They managed to stay competitive without two all-star players who transferred before the season and without two starters who got injured early in the year.
And in a rebuilding season, Lakeside won four more games than the previous season.
That's why Morgan is The Augusta Chronicle's 2006 All-Area Boys Soccer Coach of the Year.
"(Greenbrier's) Chip (Warren) and Kevin (Kennedy) and I have had talented players," Richmond Academy coach Chris Hughes said. "Dave Morgan doesn't have all that talent. He's had to squeeze a little more out of his teams than maybe we've usually had to."
It could have been easier had Edward Detchemendy and Will Dunaway stayed. Instead, Detchemendy transferred to Aquinas, and Dunaway left for Greenbrier.
The two combined for 43 goals and 34 assists during the season. The entire Lakeside team scored 35 goals.
"Obviously, Greenbrier would have been the team to beat in the region," Kennedy said. "But if he keeps those kids healthy and those kids don't transfer, they would have been right in the mix."
Lakeside was in the mix in almost every game. The Panthers upset Richmond Academy and No. 1 playoff seed Ware County and also knocked off rival Evans. Of their 11 losses, five came by one goal and four more were by two.
Twelve of Lakeside's foes were in the state playoffs. Six were ranked in the top 10 at the end of the season.
"We always try to play the best teams we can," Morgan said. "We got better and better as the year went on. That's something to say for the guys."
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 or firstname.lastname@example.org.