PDT Sports Writer
LUCASVILLE — Two paths, one destination.
The roads Joseph Winters and Scott Adkins have taken are opposite of each other. One set a school record for career goals while the other tried out for the same sport on a whim.
Last fall, they headlined Valley’s 15-2-1 mark that included the school’s first district final soccer appearance since 1998 and came within a win of claiming the SOC I crown. The pair will continue to be teammates, but on the collegiate level as both have signed to play for Shawnee State.
Their high school coach, Bill Hale, is excited to see both move on and showcase their talents for the Bears.
“Basically I’m really proud of those two boys, they worked hard,” Hale said. “Scott worked hard at what he was doing, it wasn’t easy to learn but he worked hard and the concepts he learned as a keeper, he’s a good athlete and picked up on it pretty quick.
“…(Joseph’s) work ethic is unbelievable. Every chance that he gets.”
Winters, who started playing soccer in seventh grade, set the Indians’ regular season scoring mark with 41 goals in his final campaign. He said decision to play for SSU was an easy one to make, mainly for financial reasons.
“I wasn’t really interested in anyone else to be honest,” Winters said. “It was close to home.”
Even if soccer wasn’t an option, Winters wanted to join the school and enroll in the pre-med program. His goal is to become an anesthesiologist, but is willing to go into any portion of the medical field.
The coaches have told Winters he would need to bulk up and become acclimated to the speed of the game. Winters feels he can get the speed portion figured out quickly.
“It’s a lot faster-paced in college which I think will be an easier transition for me because I’m pretty quick and I run track when I’m not playing soccer,” Winters said.
For Adkins, he made a great first impression on everyone in the soccer community. In his first and only season of high school varsity soccer, Adkins was the last line of defense as the team’s goalkeeper. It wasn’t until open fields the spring leading up to the season in which Adkins decided to play on the team.
“Every day in the summer, (Joseph and I were) out playing and he was shooting on me,” Adkins said. “I just developed a natural touch for the game, I think my athleticism helped pave that.”
It wasn’t until the final few weeks leading up to the season in which Adkins felt the jitters had left and he was able to handle the flow of the game. Adkins felt seeing Winters, who was the SOC I and Division III Southeast District Player of the Year, in practice every day helped.
“If I can go up against him and do mediocre, I’m going to be able to have at least a little bit of success against everybody else,” Adkins said.
In just one season, Hale felt he was working with someone special.
“I’ve been coaching for a long time and he’s probably one of the best keepers I’ve ever had,” Hale said. “And I’ve had some really good ones.”
In a span of one year, Adkins went from not believing he would be good enough to play collegiately to having looks from Tiffin, Wilmington, Asbury, Kentucky Christian and Shawnee State. Ultimately, Adkins decided to stay close at home and will study either health care administration or environmental engineering.
Hale understood Adkins and Winters were dedicated to the sport because each didn’t want to see practice end. Both players knew the success of their team’s season rested on their shoulders as two of the six members of the senior class.
“It was iffy, I really wasn’t for sure how we were going to do just because we had a lot of younger players,” Winters said. “But we stepped up and really exceeded our expectations by far.”
When it comes to perspective about their time at Valley, the two are opposites. Winters admitted he’s ready to get out and find that next step in his career. Adkins had so much fun he wished he had joined sooner.
One thing is for sure, Bears coach Ron Goodson is ready to bring both on board.
“We are getting an outstanding player in Joseph,” Goodson said in a written statement. “He is very quick and will strengthen our offense.
“Scott is a great addition to our program. He has good size and a lot of raw talent. I think he will add depth to our goalkeepers and will help make our program stronger.”
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org.