|Spenser Daniel hoping for trip to state soccer tournament|
|Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
March 28, 2006 - For Sulphur Springs senior Spenser Daniel, the football field or the soccer pitch is where you most likely will find him during an athletic season.
Whether it is kicking footballs through the up-rights or clearing out a soccer ball on the defensive end, the senior has helped the Wildcats to one of their best seasons in school history.
With a record of 22-4 overall and their second straight District 12-4A championship, the Wildcats open up the Class 4A playoffs against Whitehouse tonight at Lindale High School - the same site as their 6-0 loss to Henderson last year in the area round.
Daniel, the son of Lee and Mona Daniel and a three-year varsity letterman, said being the district champion is only the first of many goals this season.
"Our goal is to always be district champs and we accomplished that goal this year. We are going to win a playoff game and we are going to win as many as we can," he said. "I think we are ready. We have been practicing all week, and I think we can come out with the victory."
Daniel knows if the Wildcats can win tonight's game, they will face the winner of the Highland Park/Athens contest this weekend and Daniel wants a rematch with the Athens Hornets.
"Highland Park is a tough team and we played Athens earlier in the year and we have come a long way this year," Daniel said. "I would really like another shot at Athens."
In tonight's game, the Wildcats will be working to stop the Whitehouse three-forward attack, and Daniel said he and coach Andy Holt were in attendance at the bi-district game between Whitehouse and Nacogdoches on Friday.
"Coach Holt and I went and watched the game on Friday. They have two seniors on their team and we should have a good chance of beating them," he said.
Spenser said playing the stopper position gives him the tougher assignments on the field and clearing out the throw-ins and corner kicks is his main objective. Offensively, he uses his 6-2 frame to head balls into net or to flick them to other players. He has 10 goals and six assists this season despite being a defensive player.
"I am the stopper and I pretty much play defense. I come up once in a while for throw-ins and corners, but I rely on Blake (Holly) and Rolando (Larios) to make things happen," he said. "I get back and play defense on their corners and their defensive throw-ins."
The Wildcats were able to reach their most successful season with their usual strong defense and the offensive play of forwards Chris Rodgers - who set the single-season record for goals scored at 32 - and Daniel Santillan as both players scored over 20 goals this season.
"Chris and Daniel have stepped up tremendously and they have done a great job," Daniel said. "Jeremy (Potter) also in the back has stepped up this year. We have been together ever since we were little kids, and we know where everybody is going to be and that everything is going to work out."
Daniel said the communication in tonight's game needs to be better all the way around against Whitehouse, and he will be one to show it at the stopper position.
"I have got to step up. Being in the middle is a big role, and you have to talk to everybody from the people in front of you to the people behind you and you have to have a swivel head and do what you have to do," he said. We just need to keep our heads and not be wild and keep under control and talk to one another in order to win tonight."