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Bower, Langston, Alexander ready for all-star soccer game

High school soccer moves from the refrigerator to the oven thisweekend as Brookhaven coach Kevin Bower and two of his players,Tyler Alexander and Giles Langston, prepare for the MississippiAssociation of Coaches 23rd Annual All-Star Boys Soccer Game. The 3p.m. boys game in Joe Renfroe Stadium on the Hinds CommunityCollege campus in Raymond will be preceded by the 10th AnnualAll-Star Girls Soccer Game, starting at 1 p.m.

Accustomed to playing in the depths of winter, the players willcope with 90-degree temperatures and high humidity during two daysof practice leading up to Saturday’s showcase.

“I know it’s going to be hot,” said Bower. “Some of the playerswill be in shape and others won’t. The kids on select teams playall year round.”

Bower, 34, has been coaching six years at BHS, the last three asboys head coach. His Panthers enjoyed a banner campaign in 2005,winning the division title and advancing to the Class 4A stateplayoffs. An overtime playoff loss to Laurel ended their season at16-3-2.

This was Bower’s fourth year to direct the varsity girlsprogram. The Lady Panthers (11-7-1) were runners-up to Terry in thedivision race and fell to Laurel in the opening round of the stateplayoffs

“I’m looking forward to coaching the all-stars,” said Bower.”That has been one of my goals.”

At art teacher at BHS, Bower graduated from Clinton High Schoolin 1989. He attended Delta State University one year and finishedat Mississippi College where his soccer career was cut short bytendinitis in his hip. He also served as a soccer manager atMC.

Bower said he was happy to have two of his players in theall-star game. Alexander (5-9, 145) is a forward and Langston(5-10, 155) is a midfielder. They both have signed soccerscholarships with Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

Langston, who accounted for 15 assists last season, said he hasbeen doing some running to stay in shape. “Let the good times roll.I’m looking forward to the game.”

A 4-year starter, Langston said soccer is a demanding sport. “Ilike the toughness. You need overall conditioning and stamina.”

Bower praised Langston’s soccer skills. “Giles is a very smartplayer. He knows how to direct where the ball needs to go. Hecontrols the flow of the game.

“Besides that, Giles is a good leader,” Bower added. “He hasplayed just about every position for us.”

Alexander has scored over 40 goals during his varsity career. Hescored 19 as a senior and 20 as a junior.

“I like the challenge soccer gives you,” said Alexander. “Ittakes a lot of heart to train yourself. You have to befocused.”

Alexander also said he was looking forward to the all-star game.”I’m ready to play some soccer.”

Both players agreed that beating Terry for the divisionchampionship was the highlight of their senior season. Langstonplans to pursue a career in international business. Alexander isundecided on his major.

“Tyler works hard and he’s really quick,” said Bower. “He likesto shoot from different angles. That helps our offense.”

Working with Bower as South coach is Anjan Karmarcharya ofPetal.

All-Star Girls

Emily Vanlandingham of North Pike and her coach, Wes McCullough,will be on the South Girls Team. Also coaching the South girls isSara Evans of Ocean Springs.

Vanlandingham scored 28 goals as a senior. She has signed asoccer scholarship with Pearl River Community College. She willalso play in the slowpitch all-star game at Newton County on June25.