Messenger file photo by Chris McCarthy
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Although this year’s spring sports season ended in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, senior Isaac Franklin left an impression on various soccer fields in northeast Alabama.
The Southside High senior striker recently was named Player of the Year for the 2020 All-Etowah County boys soccer team. Nominations were submitted by area coaches and the team was voted on by the coaches and members of the local media. Ashville High School was included in the nominations and voting.
Franklin (pictured above) finished with 28 goals, 14 assists and 62 steals while helping the Panthers to an 11-1-2 record and a No. 1 state ranking in Class 4A-5A before the shutdown. Franklin, who recently signed with Shorter University in Rome, Ga., was as listed first on MaxPreps for total points for the 2019 high school soccer season. He also 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. For his high school varsity career, Franklin finished with 108 goals and 85 assists.
“Two words that would describe Isaac would be ‘great character’,” said Southside boys soccer coach Randy Vice, who was named Coach of the Year. “Since I’ve been at Southside the past three years, he’s showed a tremendous amount of leadership, and this year he really stepped up in that department, not just on the field but off the field. I would see Isaac and a couple of other players at the park or other places during the offseason, just doing what they were supposed to do. That’s character, and you can’t coach that. That comes from the inside and is taught at home.”
As an example, Vice pointed to Isaac’s habit of self-restraint when being the target of rough play, the result being not having a single yellow card or caution during the shortened season.
“There were a lot of games this year when Isaac was physically worn down, because a lot of our opponents’ strategy was to do whatever it took to keep Isaac off the ball, and I don’t blame them at all for doing that. A lot of players would have gotten upset and lost their cool, but Isaac played through it. I can’t say enough about that.”
Vice sees Franklin contributing as a freshman for NCAA Division II Shorter in 2021.
“I think he’ll have the opportunity to play a lot next year. There’s no guarantee at that level, but if Isaac brings his ‘A’ game, I can see him getting a lot of minutes. Shorter is a strong D-II program that plays in a great conference (Gulf South), so that’s saying something for him.”
Joining Franklin on the all-county boys first team were senior defender Cade Thompson (126 steals), senior defender/sweeper Johanes Dodel (held opponents to only 1.4 goals per game with 86 steals), senior Kevin Laby (nine goals) and senior midfielder/stopper Carter Huffstutler (five goals, two assists, 67 steals from Southside; seniors Daniel Sparks (team leader in goals), senior Brandon Buchanon and Will Partridge team assist leader from Gadsden City; seniors Jai’Shawn Cattling (21 goals, nine assists), Will Edwards (nine goals, 16 assists) and junior Trent Atkins (three goals, seven assists) from Westbrook Christian; eighth grade forward Aiden Cornutt (34 goals) and freshman goalkeeper Gavin Bray (68 saves) from Glencoe and senior goalkeeper Nathan Williams (averaged eight saves a game) from Ashville.
Earning honorable mention recognition were Southside’s Kurt Franklin and Eduardo Mendez; Gadsden City’s Jesse Kantzler and Garret Keck; Westbrook’s Karmichael Cattling and Evan Sizemore; and Glencoe’s Vraj Patel.