• July 25, 2014

Chemistry, selflessness lead to wins

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Posted: Friday, June 20, 2014 4:30 am

Random musings as Robin van Persie single-handedly changed the way I watch soccer:

Harker Heights players don’t need me to tell them that 7-on-7 success isn’t necessarily a predictor of regular-season success on the gridiron.

Head coach Jerry Edwards said he tells them plenty himself.

That said, Heights senior Josh Ellis did a fine job of articulating how the same traits that are leading Heights to success in 7-on-7 can absolutely lead the Knights to success this fall.

Ellis didn’t mention the passing of Troy Smith or the playmaking of the Heights receivers, both of which improved in 7-on-7, in his answer.

Ellis said he felt the Knights’ chemistry and selflessness were big reasons for the Knights’ 8-1 record in the 7-on-7 round robins.

The chemistry, in particular, sticks out because Ellis is one of the many new weapons surrounding quarterback Troy Smith.

Besides Smith, all of the Knights’ primary options on offense are gone — and yet Smith and Ellis, along with receivers Jordan Weller and Thai Goodwin, haven’t missed a beat.

Defense will again be key for Heights, especially with eight returning starters. And every game, of course, is won in the trenches.

But Ellis is right.

Heights has one of the key ingredients for success in the making, and it is showing in 7-on-7.

I’ve covered soccer since my junior year at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, when I covered the men’s team for the Daily Tar Heel.

The following year, I covered the women’s team en route to a Final Four appearance.

And, of course, I’ve covered the sport every year since as a high school sports writer here in Texas.

But I’ve never been more than a casual fan, tuning in for United States games in the 2010 World Cup and big games here and there like the Champions League final this past May.

Then I watched Robin van Persie tie what ultimately was a Netherlands rout against defending champion Spain with a diving header in the first half that may have been the best goal I’ve seen live.

Since that goal, I’ve been hooked, watching the World Cup every day for the off chance that I might see a play that spectacular again.

It reminds me of when I saw Penny Hardway toss a young Shaquille O’Neal a rim-rattling alley oop in the 1994 NBA playoffs and, at age 6, was hooked on the sport of basketball.

Thank you, World Cup, and thank you, RVP. Now, I just need an English Premier League team to root for in the fall.

I don’t know how to start the end of this column, to be honest.

On Tuesday evening, ESPNDallas reporter Richard Durrett died at the age of 38 due to a brain aneurysm, leaving behind a wife and two children.

Durrett was the Texas Rangers beat reporter at The Dallas Morning News when I got my first taste of professional journalism as a high school intern at my hometown paper.

I was allowed to tag along with Durrett at a Rangers-Houston Astros game, and while I did no actual work that night, Durrett made me feel like I belonged.

I never forgot his kindness and how he took the time to answer all my questions and make me feel like more than a wide-eyed intern even though that is exactly what I was.

Seeing the outpouring of emotion on Twitter, and reading the stories from his colleagues who knew him better, only confirms that my experience with him was typical of him.

He will be sorely missed, and I pray for his family.

Rest in peace, Richard Durrett.

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