Brock Netter, Staff Writer
JACKSON — No one wants a senior year on the soccer pitch more than Jackson’s Collin Ghearing.
Over the past three seasons, the senior forward has led the Ironmen to a 33-14-5 record, which includes back-to-back Division II sectional championships.
Ghearing scored 14 goals and passed out 10 assists last fall in the Ironmen’ 13-5 campaign, and was rewarded for those efforts with the FAC Player of the Year award.
But while the numbers and accolades are admittedly nice to have, Ghearing has higher goals for himself this year.
He’ll be playing with the bigger picture in mind.
“Ultimately, I want to be the FAC Player of the Year again and make first-team All-Ohio,” Ghearing said. “The numbers and recognition are great accomplishments. But this has the chance to be a special season, one of the best in Jackson’s history. We’re a hungry group who wants to leave our mark and hopefully do something that’s never been done before.”
The Ironmen ended last season with a 1-0 loss to Alexander in a Division II district semifinal. With 10 starters returning from that roster, and a solid freshman class that could provide contributions right away, Ghearing and his teammates feel like this year is their year.
“It’s great having all the guys back and so much returning experience in the starting lineup,” Ghearing said. “But having a big group of freshmen coming in as well is great. Those guys have worked hard and it puts even more of a responsibility on us as seniors because we want to leave behind a standard that they can look up to and add on to.”
Ghearing, like many others thanks to COVID-19, didn’t get the chance to play his usual amount of club soccer over the offseason. But despite that fact, he’s worked on building his strength to make himself more durable.
The extra work he’s put in is fueled by two things …
The first thing is the fact that, while Jackson and Chillicothe have had their intense battles, the Ironmen are 0-6 against the Cavaliers since Ghearing entered high school.
“Us and Chillicothe is always a dogfight. When it comes to soccer, we don’t like them and they don’t like us,” Ghearing said. “They’ve gotten the best of us every year. Last year, we believed it was our turn to win the conference or at least a share. But we were tied last year, and they made a play to win. They didn’t give up and got us. This year seems like a level playing field with who we have returning and who they lost. So hopefully things work out in our favor.”
The other thing fueling Ghearing is getting to a district final. The last two seasons have ended with one-goal losses to Circleville and Alexander in the district semifinal round.
Wins are wins. Sectional titles are sectional titles. But all the wins and sectional titles in the world won’t mean a thing to Ghearing unless he can play with a district title at stake.
“With the group we have and the experience, I believe we can go undefeated in the conference and get to a district final,” Ghearing said. “I believe this is our year. It’s just a matter of us going on the field everyday and proving it. Us seniors want to leave behind a legacy of hard work to the freshmen and sophomores. Bringing back some hardware would be the ultimate stamp for us.”