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Grief hits close, but Ads win 4-AAA

Farragut minds were on soccer but their hearts were with teammate Josh Riner.

Riner, who played just hours before preparing to attend his father’s funeral, helped No. 2 Class AAA state-ranked Farragut slip past Maryville 3-2 in double overtime to win the District 4-AAA Tournament championship Saturday, May 11, at FHS.

“Josh is out here a couple of days after his dad’s gone, and that’s just incredible,” said senior midfielder Tyler Mottern, whose header off a Travis Bolton corner kick provided the wining goal with 3:47 left in the second OT.

“He knows his dad would want him to be out here. We tried to give him as much encouragement as we could and tried to pick him up. It’s been hard on everybody.

“We did it for Josh and his dad [Jim], we couldn’t let the season end right here.”

Jim Riner died of a heart attack Wednesday, May 7.

Bolton said, “We have won the last two games in the name of Mr. Riner. They’ve both been emotional games for us.”

Riner took hugs from most FHS teammates and head coach Wallie Culbreth after the game.

Culbreth described the team mood as a “rollercoaster of emotions,” adding, “it was hard to keep focused on what we were wanting to do.”

While both teams dealt with the obstacle of rescheduling the final 59-plus minutes of regulation play Saturday morning after the game was postponed due to lightening Friday evening, the Admirals (19-1-2 record entering the week) had still more hurdles.

Culbreth said the absence of All-state midfielder Josh Holt was a major tactical obstacle. “That’s a big difference, he’s the center of my attack,” Culbreth said.

More tactical problems came out of the MHS game.

Though Holt returned to the line-up against No. 4 state-ranked West May 13 (after press deadline), FHS lost All-state defender Joseph Muth for the WHS game after a red card violation Saturday. Muth grabbed an MHS player from behind to stop an almost certain OT goal. “He’s the best defender in the state,” Culbreth said.

Also, Culbreth was missing starting goalkeeper Stephen Matlock Saturday after the sophomore bruised his thigh Friday evening, saying his prognosis to return this week was unknown.

Both Maryville goals came on free kicks, answering FHS tallies. The last one tied the game 2-2 with 15:07 left in regulation play Saturday. “They were good kicks,” Culbreth said. “They put ’em in the right place.”

The Bolton-to-Mottern corner kick-header combo resulted in the game’s first goal early in Friday evening’s session.

Farragut took a 2-1 lead when yet another header, this time from Muth off a throw-in from Trevor Grieco, came with 26:43 remaining in the second half Saturday.

If FHS won Tuesday it would host the MHS-Oak Ridge winner at 7 p.m. tonight, Thursday, May 15, for the Region 2-AAA title. Sectional games are Saturday, May 17. State tourney begins May 21.


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