Photo courtesy of GCHS
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Gadsden City High School is well represented on the AHSAA North-South All-Star boys soccer team.
Rising senior and midfielder Jesse Kantzler (pictured, lower right) was one of 17 players selected to the North roster, while GCHS head coach Samantha Coker (pictured at right) was named a North boys co-coach.
The all-star game, which normally is held each year in mid-July at Auburn-Montgomery, was cancelled due to concerns with the COVID-19 virus. Each player on both teams will receive certificates from the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association.
“It’s nice to be recognized, but to be honest, I’ve never really thought about personal accolades,” said Kantzler, who also plays football for GCHS. “I was happy with the way we started out strong this season, and I guess if someone had to be recognized, I was lucky enough that it was me.”
Kanztler (pictured above at right) believes the 2020 team had a legitimate chance of halting the program’s five-year playoff drought. He was an Alabama Soccer Coaches Association’s 2020 all-state honorable mention selection after finishing second on the team in goals and assists.
“It was unfortunate how it all ended, because we were really liking our chances and had a really good group of seniors,” he said. “But this group of juniors has played together as far back as I can remember, and I think we’ll be even better next year.”
Kantzler came up through the Etowah Youth Soccer Association before eventually playing competitive ball with the local Fusion and Rush clubs.
Coker was named Etowah County Coach of the Year after leading the Lady Titans to an 8-3-1 record prior to the shutdown.
“I wish I could have been able to be a part of the whole experience, but’s it’s still an honor,” she said. “Especially to be a female coach to be recognized from a boys’ program.”
Corker said that Kantzler’s selection might be a first for the GCHS boys soccer program.
“Jesse is just a fun player to watch,” she said. “His skill level, the energy that he brings and the way he sees the game is special. Personality-wise, Jesse’s a kid that nobody could not like. I’ve taught him in class, and he’s a great student. Maybe this recognition will spark Jesse to play soccer at the next level, because he’s certainly capable of that.”
Corker felt that the 2020 Titans, who went 6-4 before the AHSAA cancelled the spring sports season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was one of the strongest boys teams to come through the school since its inception 14 years ago.
“This group was really starting to enjoy [soccer] again,” she said. “They had that kind of energy in the eighth and ninth grade and then kind of lost a little bit, but this year I saw that they were really coming together as a team. They were really supporting each other and playing hard, and in [Class] 7A, every game is hard.”