Acker Holt was realistic as he assessed the outlook for Florence High boys soccer ahead of his senior year.
Several starters from the 2017 team had graduated, and the back line in particular was going to look considerably different.
“I thought it would probably be the weakest team I’d played on as a varsity player, but it was on par with those for sure, and we got farther (in the postseason),” Holt said. “So that says a lot about the team and the coaching job that Coach Glenn (Harscheid) did.”
Harscheid’s Falcons advanced to the Class 6A quarterfinals for the first time in program history, and the senior striker Holt was a big part of it. He led the team with 20 goals and added 3 assists and is the TimesDaily’s All-Area Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
Holt and the other all-area players of the year will be honored at a June 14 banquet where the TimesDaily Male and Female Athletes of the Year will be announced.
“I expected to do well in area, but I didn’t know we’d get further than any Florence team has, which we did,” Holt said. “So I’d say this season definitely exceeded expectations.”
Holt’s soccer journey started when he was around 4 or 5, and he played baseball as a youngster, too. When he started playing football at age 8, he had to choose between soccer and baseball as a second sport.
“Close to every single one of my closest friends chose baseball at that age. I chose soccer, just because I just liked soccer a lot more,” he said. “I was probably a little bit better at it, but I just enjoyed soccer a lot more. From then on it’s been my favorite sport for sure.”
Holt played striker throughout most of his youth career but moved to wing when he joined the Florence varsity as a sophomore. But Harscheid switched him back to striker as a senior, and Holt took advantage.
“I got back to where I was most comfortable. I guess I could say I thought I kind of under-produced my other two years.”
Florence was ranked among the top 10 teams in the state in Class 6A throughout the season, and the Falcons matched up with Decatur in the first round of the playoffs.
Two years ago Florence suffered a first-round loss to Austin that Holt did not see coming, and he reminded his younger teammates of that at a pregame dinner before the Decatur game.
“I was like ‘Guys, you have no idea how bad it would suck to lose tomorrow. I can’t explain it,’” he said.
Happily for Florence, they still don’t know. The Falcons rolled 8-2, with seven players scoring and Holt not even among them.
“It was a complete team effort,” Holt said.
The Falcons then visited Oxford and won 4-0, with Holt assisting on an Eddie Alvarado goal and Alvarado assisting on all 3 of Holt’s goals.
“He set me up every time,” Holt said of the junior Alvarado. “They were easy because of him. He was incredible that game.”
The Falcons lost in the third round to eventual state runner-up Fort Payne, 1-0. Holt said it was a competitive game and acknowledged Fort Payne was a quality team. It capped a run of solid performances by Florence late in the season.
Holt, who will major in political science and economics at Alabama and hopes to go to law school, finished his prep soccer career with good memories.
“I think we gave it our all,” he said. “I mean, I’m proud of our team.”