Just as he envisioned three years ago, Daniel Holbrook’s Stall High School boys soccer team has evolved into one of the top programs in the Lowcountry.
The Warriors entered spring break with a 10-2 record and ranked seventh in Class AAA by the South Carolina Soccer Coaches Association. Holbrook took over the Stall program three years ago, leaving a successful nine-year stint at Blackville-Hilda High School for a new challenge.
When he arrived at Stall, Holbrook found a group of talented players but not much of a team concept.
“There were players who were good players individually, but they were all doing their own thing,” said Holbrook, whose wife Lori is the junior varsity coach at Stall. “There was not a lot of organization and when things didn’t go well, they blamed everyone else. They were competitive, but because there was no true team concept, they could not win the big games.”
The attitude has changed significantly over time, the coach says. Stall now competes and wins big games. The Warriors recently took defending state AAA champion Hilton Head to penalty kicks before losing. They have a win over James Island, one of the better programs in the area. The only other loss came to SCISA power Porter-Gaud.
“The confidence level is very high right now,” said Holbrook. “I believe this team has the potential to play with anyone. It’s clearly the best team we’ve had in my three years and now we play as a team and we believe in the system.”
Stall’s style of play would resemble a ball control running game in football. The Warriors play to possess the ball and, due to a lack of height, prefer to play with the ball on the ground.
Leading this year’s team is senior center midfielder Alex Hernandez, a two-time all-state selection in Class AA. Senior Onecimo Martinez moved from a prominent position in the field to goal keeper this spring to fill a need.
Another midfielder, junior Luis Lemus, moved to the defensive backfield this year to better the team. Junior Christian Jimenez leads the Warriors offensively with 15 goals.
Holbrook has worked hard to infuse energy and excitement into the program by encouraging his team to become more involved in the student body as well. Senior wing Miguel Alvarez was elected student body president last fall.
“I noticed when I got here that the soccer team seemed totally separate from the rest of the school, and I really wanted to change that,” the coach said. “It was important to give these kids something to believe in and to have them commit to the total program. Being involved in the school outside of soccer is part of that process.”
Stall is currently locked in a three-way tie with Hilton Head and James Island for the Region 8-AAA title. The Warriors get a second shot at Hilton Head on Tuesday night, at home, and play James Island later this month.
“We’re excited to be in the position we’re in,” Holbrook said. “If we stick to our plan, we have a shot.”