By BRAD HARRISON — firstname.lastname@example.org
Heading into the 2012 boys soccer season, Howard head coach Vegas McCain saw untapped scoring power on the Huskies’ roster. So he took senior midfielder Kioki Hutchings and shuffled him forward in the offensive attack to the position of striker.
To say that the move paid off is an understatement. Hutchings tormented defenses throughout Middle Georgia from the start of the season and into the playoffs, piling up 31 goals. By the time the season ended, the Huskies had ripped off a 13-game winning streak, moving into the second round of the GHSA Class AAA playoffs where they lost to eventual state runner-up Gainesville.
“You could see his talent, but 31? That’s a lot of goals,” McCain said.
Hutchings is The Telegraph’s All-Middle Georgia Boys Soccer Player of the Year. He’ll continue his career this fall at Georgia Perimeter.
Hutchings powered a Howard offense that scored at least four goals in 11 of its 18 games. Of the Huskies’ 86 goals scored as a team, Hutchings scored 31, or 36 percent. And when he shot the ball, Hutchings enjoyed a high rate of success.
This past season, Hutchings shot the ball 58 times, finishing with a goal-to-shot ratio of 53 percent.
There was more to the offensive success than just goals scored for Hutchings. He also had 13 assists, which, combined with Hutchings’ goals scored, accounted for 53 percent of the Huskies’ offensive output.
“He’s got a great touch on the ball,” McCain said. “He has a deadly accurate shot. He knows when to shoot and when to pass.”
That scoring ability, however, was in the midfield before the season, at least at Howard. Hutchings had already played forward with his club team out of the Atlanta area, Concorde Fire South. So when the chance to play the same position for his high school team arose, there was no hesitation on the part of Hutchings.
“I was excited,” Hutchings said. “I’m like, ‘Finally, I get a chance to put points on the board.’ ”
And thanks to his talent, Howard experienced by far its best season to date, winning 15 games and losing just three.
A high water mark came late in the season when Howard took on Veterans in the regular season finale with a region title on a line, stakes typically reserved within Bibb County for GISA schools.
“The seniors on this team, we’ve been together since middle school. We wanted to leave everything on the field,” Hutchings said. “With how far we got, and how far we’ve come at Howard, that was big. In Macon, a lot of teams don’t get attention unless they are private schools.”