At the end of each victory, the Skyline players would run over to the student section to celebrate. On Saturday, the celebration eventually spilled onto the field as the fences at Novi couldn’t contain the enthusiasm and pride the school had for a group of young men who overcame one injury after another to win it all on the soccer field.
It was quite a trip for the Eagles who flew into the tournament as one of the top teams in the state but with plenty of competition between them and the title.
“We have the best coach, the best assistant coach, the best everything,” said Skyline junior Chris Emerson after the Eagles knocked off East Kentwood on Saturday to win the Division 1 state finals and earn Skyline its second title in just eight years on the high school soccer scene.
“And the coaching really helped us earn the championship this year.”
The “coaching” starts with the head coach Chris Morgan, the only coach Skyline soccer has ever had on the sideline. Morgan has led the Eagles to three Regional finals and state titles in 2013 and now 2018.
The coach who the infectious smile and who creates a family atmosphere on and off the field with his teams has a career record of 120-31-37 in his eight years as coach of the Eagles.
Morgan will be the first to tell you that he hasn’t done this alone. Like Emerson said, the Eagles fly with the best. Assistant coaches Michael Lukela, Alex Landschulz, Steve Klezynski and Dan Depaulis helped keep the Eagles flying high all season and it’s a very active staff. They all have a voice and purpose coaching this team.
The Eagles also have strong leadership on the field and this season was no different. Seniors Thomas Halloran, Kyri Wixom and Jamie Palms were outstanding captains this past season.
This season’s playoff run actually began at the end of the regular season. Losing your last regular season game isn’t exactly how you want to head into the postseason but the Eagles dropped a 1-0 decision to Jackson before starting Districts.
“No, it’s not the way you want to head into Districts,” Morgan said of the loss. “We used that loss to remind the boys of that feeling and that we didn’t want to feel this way again.”
And they never did.
“It was a motivating game for us,” Morgan said of the loss to Jackson. “It was better than I tie and I don’t think beating them 1-0 would have helped us. The loss really kind of motivated us.”
Like a good midfielder, Morgan passes on the credit of his success on to the players.
“It’s all these boys,” Morgan says of the program’s success. “They are so committed. They are year-round players and they buy into our program and our family atmosphere that we try to create. It’s them. I just try and point them in the right direction and they go.
“I have a great staff too. I surround myself with good people. And that’s a winning recipe.”