If you were expecting a tension-packed final soccer practice Monday for the East Hall boys and Johnson boys, you would probably be very disappointed.
Both squads know that the horses are already in the barn for their respective state semifinal matches on Tuesday in Hall County.
In Class 5A, fourth-ranked Johnson (15-4-1) will face No. 3 Woodward Academy (16-2-1) in the fourth round of the playoffs in Oakwood, also its final game on the natural grass as Billy Ellis Memorial Stadium before offseason work to install turf.
The match kicks off at 6 p.m.
“We know that Woodward Academy has a quality side,” Johnson coach Frank Zamora said. “It’s the type of program with skill, speed, they’re big and physical. Since it’s the final home game for our seniors, it has a special meaning for our boys.”
In Class 4A, No. 4 East Hall (14-4-1) will host Islands (10-1-2), starting at 7 p.m. at Vikings Stadium in Gainesville. The Vikings are in a similar position with it being their final game on grass before bulldozers take up the sod and put in a synthetic surface.
Both programs made the most of winning region championships to ensure playing the first two games at home, then came out on top of universal coin flips, from the GHSA, to host in the quarterfinals and semifinals.
“We have to go out and play to the best of our abilities,” East Hall coach Mark Wade said.
For the Vikings, Averen Samuels has continued to be their main producer for points.
Against LaGrange, Wade said his senior scored all three times on second-touch attempts. Also, East Hall relies on its spine with Edder Montesinos, Daniel Rodriguez, Pedro Arroyo and goalkeeper Walter Bran.
Just as clutch for East Hall was Bran’s saves to keep it from falling behind early and won 3-1.
“We have four of five guys, really more than that, who have played great the entire season,” Wade said.
At Johnson, it was Jorge Sandoval who provided the extra lift with a late strike against Starr’s Mill last week.
To try and replicate the state quarterfinal atmosphere, in Oakwood, Zamora said his squad will have the taco truck on hand and music playing early to try and guide fans into The Dungeon.
Both schools expect a lively crowd — hopefully more for the home guys — to pack the bleachers and send their schools into the state championship match.
“We really want to fill the stands one more time,” Zamora said.
The state championships for soccer are spread out across the state, starting Thursday and the final games are Saturday.
Johnson boys vs. Woodward Academy, 6 p.m.
East Hall boys vs. Islands, 7 p.m.