Pride of the pitch
Kirschbaum named to Super All-State Team, Woodson and Sparkman Honorable Mentions
Justin Schuver, Hartselle Enquirer
Several area players' contributions on the field have earned them accolades on the pages of the state's largest newspaper.
Ryan Kirschbaum, a junior forward at Priceville High School, was named to the Birmingham News Super All-State Soccer Team June 13. The 20-member team is composed of players from all classifications, and Kirschbaum is one of only three players from a Class 2A school named to the team.
Kirschbaum was also named to the First Team Class 4A-1A All-State Team by the News. Kirschbaum's teammate junior defender Adam Woodson and Hartselle senior defender Paul Sparkman were named to the Honorable Mention Class 5A All-State Team.
"(Woodson) is a really good player and it was cool to have a teammate on the All-Star team with me," Kirschbaum said. "Since we played at such a small school, I didn't think any of us would get much notice."
Kirschbaum's Bulldogs went 13-7-2 during the 2005 season, with the forward chipping in 63 goals and 12 assists. Priceville advanced to the AHSAA Class 4A-1A playoffs, but lost 8-2 in the first round to Jacksonville.
Kirschbaum hopes that he is able to help get the team to the next level of the playoffs as a senior in 2006.
"Next year I want to really help make the team better," he said. "We're losing four players to graduation, and there's going to be a lot of younger players. I'd like for us to get back to the playoffs again and hopefully get farther than we did this year."
Priceville coach Dennis Morris was equally surprised at Kirschbaum's honor.
"I was a little surprised that Ryan was named to the team since Priceville's such a small school," he said. "But he's an excellent player and would make an impact no matter what school he plays at.
"(Kirschbaum) is definitely one of the team's leaders. The other players look to him for an example of how to give 100 percent every time out."
Coach Morris was equally impressed by Woodson's contributions to the team this season.
"(Woodson) played sweeper for us. He's another kid who would have made an impact no matter what size school he'd played for," Morris said. "He was a player who we could use on defense, but also pull up to midfield. He was kind of a utility-type player for us."
Sparkman made an instant impact for this year's Tigers, as Hartselle advanced to the second round of the Class 5A playoffs before losing a close 2-1 game against Northridge.
"This is the first year I had Paul," Hartselle coach Darrell Harris said. "He came to me with a lot of energy – we even nicknamed him 'The Energizer Bunny.' He was our best utility player by far – he played middie (midfielder) and defense and anywhere you needed to put him.
"This season we played a lot of teams with talented strikers, and we'd put Paul out there on defense and he'd shut them all down."