Mohawks seniors leave legacy

Mason Campbell is carried by his teammates in celebration after a win over Waverly to clinch the SOC title.

Northwest seniors pose for a picture. (Front left to right: Mason Campbell, Hunter Berry, Jacob Goodson. Back left to right: Austin Speer, Austin Slusher, Tyler Webb, Dillon Gambill)

Nothing travels by faster than your senior year of high school.

All throughout your academic career, people around you warn how fast all four years pass you by. But once you reach that final year, it appears it all comes to a close in the blink of an eye.

The Northwest soccer season came to an end several weeks ago, which marked the finish of the high school careers for seven seniors.

Mason Campbell, Austin Speer, Austin Slusher, Dillon Gambill, Tyler Webb, Hunter Berry, and Jacob Goodson all played a vital role in the 19-1 season this year for the Mohawks. They will be missed beyond belief, but the seniors will also miss the school they have come to know and love.

“I will definitely miss everything I was close to at Northwest the most,” Webb said. “I am very close with a lot of the people at my school, including my teachers. Teachers and students have a very close relationship and that could not be traded for anything.”

While sports were a uniting force for each of the seven, there were factors beyond the playing field that made memories for each Mohawk.

“There’s so many things I’m going to miss about Northwest but the thing I’m going to miss the most is how everyone is like a family and everyone is there to better you and help,” Slusher said. “Northwest has been a big part of my life for the past 12 years, but it’s time to start a new chapter and a new journey.”

The support for the team was overwhelming this season, as the stands were often packed to cheer on the Mohawks.

For a team that brought so many fans to their matches this year, the Northwest seniors are grateful for the soccer community that has stuck by their side through and through.

“Our soccer community is one of the best in Ohio in my opinion,” Goodson said. “Everyone helps each other out and the parents do a lot for us players.”

Some even say that community has an even broader purpose to them.

“The soccer community here at Northwest is like a family,” Slusher said. “I’ve grown up playing soccer my whole life in this community, and it’s very sad that it’s over but I wouldn’t have played for anyone else.

“The people in our community are like no other. The love and compassion they have for each and every player on and off the field is unbelievable. It’s more like family than a community.”

With a great team, incredible support, and some outstanding coaches, the victories enjoyed in the 2017 season should come as no surprise.

In fact, many graduating players will remember this season for years to come because of all the unforgettable moments that came with it.

“Words honestly could not describe the feeling,” Webb said. “We broke several long-standing records that I feel will last for many years. I will tell many people what we achieved, including my children someday.”

Speer says he’ll be sharing those same moments down the road, too.

“I’m happy that we left a good memory for us in the community and in 20-30 years I can tell my kid we did that back then,” Speer said.

Of course, there was a lot to remember from this year.

Northwest won their first outright SOC title since 1993 in a win over Waverly. The Mohawks also claimed the district championship, and made it all the way to the regional tournament. Many awards and accolades were won along the way, too.

But that win over the Tigers was what most of the seniors will recall when it comes to what this season brought them.

“I will always remember that our team won the SOC and district,” Gambill said.

His teammates agreed that the victory to clinch the conference was an amazing experience.

Speer said he felt like he was “on top of the world” that night, and “so did my teammates and coaches.”

After that match against Waverly, Northwest fans stormed the field to share the celebration with the soccer team. Webb called the moment “surreal,” and Goodson loved the feeling he had during the madness at midfield.

“My favorite moment was when we son SOC and our fans came running out onto the field,” Goodson said. “That’s a feeling I’ll never forget.”

Several of the players weren’t hesitant in citing their least favorite moment as the first day of soccer conditioning over the summer.

“My least favorite moment was waking up on the day of soccer conditioning,” Campbell said.

Speer added that the experience was “the worst of all time.” However, those hours spent during conditioning and the struggle that their head coach Josh Keeney put them through paid dividends in the long run.

Looking back, each senior had a lot to say about their head coach and his assistants.

“There will never be a coach that cared as much about us as they did, and it feels amazing to know that our coaches would take a bullet for us as they said themselves,” Berry said. “I would do the same.”

Many players expressed their love for playing for Keeney, including Campbell.

“I wouldn’t want to play for anybody else because he made us the team that everybody came to watch,” Campbell said.

The impact the coach had on these young men is obvious.

“Coach Keeney became one of the closest people in my life,” Webb said. “He really took me under his wing, me being a forward and wearing his number.”

“He knows what it takes to win or he wouldn’t be Coach of the Year like he is. Coach Keeney is a very respectful person that holds a special place in my heart and in my life.”

One player even thinks Keeney needs to be honored more than he already has.

“Playing for Coach Keeney, Hackworth, and Hall was an honor,” Goodson said. “They pushed us and made us work hard every practice and the outcome of that was 19-1. I think after the season we just had, Northwest should be getting a soccer field and naming it after Keeney.”

These coaches reached their players not only on the field, but in preparing for life as well. Each senior expects to graduate high school and work hard to achieve great things in life, just as they did on the soccer field.

Every player hopes to go on to college at some point for different degree choices. Webb wants to go to Shawnee State to become a nurse practitioner. Slusher will attend school to become a history teacher.

Campbell hopes he can go to the military and get a degree down the road, while Speer hopes to attend school to become a welder.

Berry, Goodson, and Gambill also want to further their education but are still exploring their options as far as what to study.

Senior classes are always special, but this one goes above and beyond that in their community. The legacy they have left should be, and will be, remember forever.

“I am happy that I am in the soccer community at Northwest, and hope we can be better in the future at soccer,” Speer said.

While they enjoyed numerous spectacular seasons in their time as Mohawks, they hope the brand that they built in their time at Northwest can continue to prosper.

“It will never be taken away from us and hopefully it will push the youth soccer at Northwest to be as good as us or better,” Berry said.

Reach Benjamin Spicer at (502)264-7318 on Twitter @BSpicerPDT or at