Jul. 2—Soccer season was so one lifetime ago for Weaver graduate Kyle Knight.
A month into his workaday life in Pennsylvania, he's gone from scoring Bearcat goals to cutting tree limbs away from power lines.
For all he did to clear Weaver's path to the Calhoun County final and playoffs, Knight is The Anniston Star's Calhoun County player of the year for boys soccer.
Knight scored 36 goals, including the four he scored to match Oxford's Sergio Ruedas in a thrilling county final, which Oxford won in overtime. Knight also scored the game-winner against Jacksonville in the quarterfinals.
He also dealt five assists this season.
His play on the offensive end forced opponents to try alternative tactics to try to stop him. He also allowed other teammates to shore up the defensive end for the Bearcats.
Knight was a key in a season that saw Weaver overcome the offseason death of teammate Isaac Crook.
After a long day at work, Knight took a few minutes to talk by phone to discuss the season and more for the player-of-the-year Q&A:
Question: First of all, tell us about your new job and life nearly 875 miles away, in the Keystone State.
Answer: I started work after high school. That's what I wanted to do, so I moved up here about a week after. I'm in the tree business, making pretty good money up here because they like to pay higher up here. I've always been raised on work and everything, so that's what I wanted to go and do. It's in Bushkill, which it's around Pocono Raceway (46 miles).
Q: You and your team had a strong season this year. What are your thoughts about it?
A: It was a season to remember, for sure. With the loss of our friend, it just meant a lot to me. Every game, I prayed that he'd come into me and let me show what he could've done that season, and he did. Every game, I put my all into it, and I tried my best to show that Isaac was in me, and I believe I did pretty good, and I believe our team did pretty good for what we were.
Q: By "what we were," what do you mean?
A: We started out as a team that didn't really know each other. We didn't really know our positions. We had younger kids, and we had a team that came from the start of when we actually started playing soccer at that school. It was kind of hard in the beginning, but we all grew to love each other, especially after Isaac passed. It made us grow even closer together, because we knew any day could be it. I believe that, because of Isaac, we showed out this season.
Q: How close were you to him?
A: I was pretty close. Me and Isaac, we had a relationship like no other. We had classes together. My favorite class was history, and we had Coach (Beau) Winn in there, and he'd always let us sit there and talk to him about soccer that whole class. We were teaching that man about soccer, and Isaac was so into soccer. When he got into something, he was so for it. That's all he wanted to know about, was that, and he knew everything about it. That's why I loved Isaac so much. I used to go to his house. We used to go watch movies together. I knew his parents very well. We were really close ... really, really close.
Q: What are your memories of the day he passed?
A: I was at basketball practice. I was at the gym, about 100 feet from the soccer field. I remember Andrew Reaves came in there, and a few other soccer players came in there, and they asked for Coach Winn, who is our basketball coach, to go down there and help. He ran down there. We all came. It was me and Brendyn Knight, my other soccer teammate. We ran down there in our basketball jerseys and ran down to see if we could help. We were pushed back, because nobody wanted us to be down there.
Q: Coaches tell me you were tough to defend, and Donoho tried something special. You still scored two goals, but could you elaborate on tactics you saw?
A: Donoho did have the best strategy I've ever seen against me. They knew I was fast. They knew that all we had to do is just, somebody kick it over the top of their heads, and I could get it. They did a defense where they had two defenders past their regular defense, so they couldn't tip the ball over to me. It killed me. I had to rework my whole mind around it. The whole game, I'm trying to tell my teammates how to get it to me, and it's just not working. We're not used to it. They held me down. The goals were hard-work goals, for sure. Jacksonville had a really good defender. I scored on him, but it took everything in me to score on him. He was a senior. He was very good. He was probably the best defender I played this year.
Q: What did it mean for Weaver to get to the county final, and what was it like to be part of a match where you and another really great player like Sergio both scored four goals?
A: It was amazing to be able to have our team there for sure and have our school talk about us. Soccer is not a big thing where I'm from, and I've always loved it and always been made fun of for loving it. It was just a really big thing for me to have our team in the county final. Sergio, me and him played travel ball together. We have a good relationship. We talked before the game and after the game, and he told me straight up that he knows who deserved the MVP. It was a shootout, for sure. ... Sergio is just so quick. We just couldn't really contain him.
Q: Your whole team and coaching staff went through that this year, but Coach Mize went through a miscarriage, two bouts with COVID-19 and a dog attack this year. How aware was the team of what she was going through?
A: I'm really close with Chelsea. I know her by her first name. She knows me by mine. We know each other's family, and she's one of them that doesn't really talk about her problems. She takes care of them herself, and I really respect her for that. I was going through some, myself, and she helped me through it. She told me some about hers, and there's a big connection between me and Chelsea. I really don't know all she was going through, but you could tell she was going through a lot, especially with the Isaac situation and her having a kid now.
Q: Is what you were going through something you mind discussing?
A: It was really all with life hitting me, being 18 and knowing that I'm about to start life. Do I want to go ahead with soccer? Do I not? Do I want to go straight to work, like I've been taught my whole life? It was just really big with decisions and not knowing the right answers, just a lot on me at one time. My car caught on fire. It was a lot, just back-to-back stuff, and I had to fight my way through it.
Q: What's it like to be in the workaday world, not two months out from high school soccer glories?
A: I'll be honest with you. As a kid, my dad always grew me up to work. I've been working since I was 14 years old. I always had a backup plan for everything. When I trained in soccer, I found my own time. It was always after work. Going into this work, it's different. I'm in a totally different state. The only reason for that is, I'm getting paid a lot better than I would in Alabama. I really like it. It feels good about starting my life. There's a lot of nervousness going into it, but I've been taught by some really good people, even Chelsea Mize. She's taught me a lot, and I'm using everything people taught me to help me in life. Even Isaac. He helped me a lot. He had a great head on his shoulders. He was going to be something, and it just breaks me down, because he was special. It's just hard to speak on.
Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.