Cavalier standout earn state honor

Published 11:17 am Saturday, May 19, 2018


Daily News

Callaway soccer coach Mike Petite always knew he could count on Ian Bryan.

What Bryan brought to the team from a statistical standpoint was easy to measure.

Bryan scored 30 goals in 21 games to help lead the Cavaliers to the best season in the history of the program.

Beyond the goals, though, Petite knew that Bryan would be a consistent and reliable leader, whether it was in a big game, or during the waning moments of practice when everyone was exhausted.

“Ian didn’t always have a lot to say, he wasn’t a rah-rah guy, but he would turn around and say come on guys, and let’s keep working,” Petite said. “And he was going out and working as hard as possible.  If we were doing conditioning, he won every drill. If it was the beginning of practice, the end of practice, he went full speed all the way.”

Bryan’s outstanding work for the Cavaliers was recognized last week when he was selected as the DiVarsity Class AA boys’ player of the year.

DiVarsity selects an all-state team composed solely of seniors, and it picks the top boys’ and girls’ players from each classification.

Bryan found out from Petite that he’d not only made the all-state team, but he was the Class AA player of the year.

“It was pure happiness,” Bryan said. “A lot of hard work has been put in throughout the years. It just represents the hard work I’ve put in, and it was really nice to hear.”

Bryan said he’s glad to share the award with his teammates, who were part of a team that shared the region championship and made it to the second round of the state playoffs for the first time ever.

One of those teammates is Grayson Lambert, who made the Class AA all-state team, and he and Bryan will participate in a DiVarsity all-star game today.

The game will be played at 2 p.m. at Sprayberry High in Marietta.

“A few names stand out like Grayson (Lambert), Michael (Everett), Wes (Brooks), and all of them,” Bryan said. “It was the whole team, but they made the whole thing work like clockwork. When we were on the field, it was like we were all on the same mental level. Fortunately, we got the job done this year.”

Bryan transferred to Callaway from Flint River Academy for his junior season, and he made the most of his two years at the school.

“Last year as a junior when he came in, he played central midfield for us, so his role wasn’t necessarily a scoring role,” Petite said. “But him and Grayson were both tied for the team lead (in goals). He had 14 last year, and I think he had 14 assists. This year how we re-oriented stuff, it worked best for him and Grayson to switch roles. And you could tell there were days where he wasn’t going to be denied.”

One of those days came when Callaway was taking on Northgate in a home game on April 17.

The Cavaliers were coming off back-to-back losses, and they were starting at the possibility of going a third consecutive game without a win.

With less than a minute remaining, Wes Brooks took a corner kick, and Bryan headed the ball into the goal to give Callaway a 1-0 win.

Callaway didn’t lose again until it fell to Model in the second round of the state playoffs.

“One of the biggest goals, one of the most emotional goals, was the goal he scored when we beat Northgate,” Petite said. “It was a last-second header. You just knew at some point that he wasn’t going to be denied. He’s like that every day. He’s like that at practice. He drives people, and pushes people. He doesn’t slow down at practice.”

Considering his skill set, Bryan had ample opportunities to sign a soccer scholarship, but he has other plans for his immediate future.

Bryan will be attending North Georgia University on an ROTC scholarship, and after that he will become an officer in the U.S. Army.

“He had plenty of opportunities to play, but he decided he wanted to focus on the chance to go in the military and be an officer,” Petite said. “That’s pretty impressive. Not that many 18-year-olds have it figured out that far ahead.”

Bryan will be taking on a challenging academic load at North Georgia that includes the study of a foreign language.

“They’ll be teaching me Russian on campus in Dahlonega. That’s where it all kinds of starts,” Bryan said. “It’s like an emersion course. We’ll be eating it, and breathing it.”

While he won’t be playing soccer on the college level, he hopes to remain involved in a sport that means so much to him.

“I’ll play intramurals, stuff like that, and maybe help out coaching kids’ teams,” Petite said.

Petite, who took over as the Callaway head coach before the 2017 season, said “Ian is one of those all-around good kids.

“He’s a hard worker, he’s dedicated to a lot of things beyond soccer,” Petite added. “He’s taking AP classes. He’s driven in lots of ways. He the star of our one-act play. He got the all-region award for lead actor. He just jumped in there and had a love for that, and a passion for that. It just kind of goes to the guy he is.”

Bryan will get to represent Callaway one final time as a soccer player when he and Lambert participate in today’s all-star game.

Lambert, who has signed with Emmanuel College to play soccer, was one of Callaway’s top scorers the past two seasons.

Like Bryan, Petite said Lambert was a standout leader for the team.

“He’s a natural leader,” Petite said. “The guys gravitate toward him. He’s not afraid to step up and say something that needs to be said. Also, as much as he is a vocal leader, he’s a do-it leader. He puts the work in to be that way, and the guys see it. The guys see him go hard every day. The guys see him stay late, the guys see him do different things.”