By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Two local student-athletes are gearing up for four more years of competitive soccer.
Recent Southside High graduates Isaac Franklin (pictured left) and Kevin Laby (pictured right) signed scholarships with Shorter (Ga.) University and Talladega College, respectively.
Southside boys soccer coach Randy Vice had high praise for his former players, who helped the 2020 Panthers to an 11-1-2 record and a No. 1 state ranking in Class 4A-5A before the coronavirus shutdown in mid-March.
“First and foremost, both Isaac and Kevin are outstanding young men,” he said. “I’ve coached hundreds of kids over the years, and these two kids are as good as any of them. Both kids come from really strong families, which is so important. As far as their contributions on the soccer field this year, they were a huge part of the success we had, and I really appreciate what they gave us.”
Laby, who transferred to Southside prior to his senior year, earned honorable mention recognition on the Class 4A/5A All-State team and was selected to the All-Etowah County team after scoring nine goals and dishing out six assists this past season.
“I’ve always wanted to play college soccer,” said Laby, who plans on studying computer science at Talladega. “I’m disappointed and sad at how the season ended, but we had a very good team, and I made a lot of friends,” he said.
The NAIA Tornados went 6-11-1 in 2019.
“I think what stood out for me with Kevin was his attacking ability and his ability to score goals,” said Talladega men’s soccer coach Joe Tibbs. “He’s got a knack for going forward, and that’s something we’ll need in our attacking arsenal this coming season. I think he’ll be an excellent striker for us.”
Franklin was named Player of the Year for the 2020 All-Etowah County boys soccer team and was a Class 4A/5A All-State first team pick after 28 goals, 14 assists and 62 steals. He finished his high school career with 108 goals and 85 assists.
As a junior in 2019, Franklin was listed first on MaxPreps for total points. He was named the 2019 All-Etowah County Team MVP and was a Class 5A All-State first team pick after scoring 31 goals and distributing 30 assists while helping the Panthers post a 16-2-1 record, win an area championship and register the program’s first state playoff victory since 2016. Franklin also played in the 2019 North/South All-Star games last July in Montgomery.
“To be honest, this is a dream come true,” said Franklin, who is considering a career in criminology with the ultimate goal of joining the FBI. “This is the next stepping stone to what I really want, which is to play for a top-level soccer program. I think I’m definitely ready for it.”
Franklin pointed to the Christian atmosphere at Shorter as a major factor in his choosing the school.
“My mother had helped me a lot in bringing my life towards Christ, and the Christian-based campus at Shorter really drew me closer [to signing with Shorter]. I really felt that it could be a home away from home. I’m hoping that going [to Shorter] will bring me closer to Christ. God has been my center in everything, and I’m very thankful for everything He’s given me.”
The Division II Hawks finished the 2019 season at 6-8-3 overall and 2-6-3 in the Golf South Conference.