Dalton, GA (WDEF-TV) – Whitfield County has quickly become a hot bed for the best high school soccer players – not just in the state of Georgia — but the entire country. Two number one ranked teams in Georgia come out of Whitfield county.
News 12’s Angela Moryan gets to the bottom of this recent surge of talent.
Said SE Whitfield player Carlos Gloria: “Southeast, Dalton, Northwest, Coahulla, anything around here is big.”
Angie: “What’s in the water down here to make all these great soccer players?”
Said Dalton head coach Matt Cheaves: “There’s nothing in the water. I think it’s in the family. It’s in the community. These guys grow up playing with their fathers and their older brothers, their uncles and their cousins, their close friends. It’s just a great special soccer community here.”
Said SE Whitfield head coach Hector Holguin: “They play against each other at the school level. They play together at the club level. They go to the rec and play against each other. It’s just awesome.”
Said Dalton senior Damian Rodriguez: “We all play together, and we all seem to get better together.”
And have a national reputation together. Dalton is ranked number 2 in the country, with smaller 4-A Southeast not far behind at number 10.
Said Gloria: “They know right away. ‘Oh, Northwest Georgia soccer. Y’all are pretty good up there.’ Really, really good competition. They know what we have.”
Said Rodriguez: “We would put Dalton on the map against other schools. They’d be like, ‘Oh, you’re playing against Dalton?’ The other teams would already be nervous enough.”
Said Cheaves: “One coach one year, they got off the bus like they were super tired, like they just had this four hour bus ride, but we already knew they had stayed at the hotel down the road the night before. So they were trying to mess with us.”
Whitfield’s talent has received professional attention, as well. Early this month, the Chattanooga Red Wolves signed former Dalton player Cristian Zaragoza to a professional contract.
Said SE Whitfield senior Salvador Garcia: “I think that just made everybody kick it up another level, just like, ‘Okay, people are starting to notice that there’s talent here. I need to pick it up.'”
Said Holguin: “I hope it continues to grow. It starts at the rec level, and now you got the Red Wolves getting involved. I think it’s such a great academy. I think the talent is only going to grow, and we’re going to see a lot more Cristian’s out here.”