Healthy Anderson helping Hightstown to strong start
HIGHTSTOWN » Jamal Anderson is healthy and happy to be playing sports again at Hightstown High in 2017.
After a junior campaign which seemed to feature more injuries than time on the field or the floor for the Rams boys soccer and basketball teams, respectively, Anderson took the spring off to improve his health and adjust his approach for this, his senior season.
For a talented athlete like Anderson, that was very important because last year he did not garner the kind of attention from colleges a player of his skills should.
So Anderson went about making sure he was in even better shape in hopes of avoiding the nagging injuries which sidelined him.
Perhaps a little surprising, he returned to the soccer field with his friends even though many consider basketball to be the sport he will pursue down the road.
“Growing up my main sport had been soccer,” Anderson said after scoring a pair of goals to help the Rams defeat Franklin, 4-1, Saturday on David J. McIntire Field. “I really didn’t start playing basketball until sixth or seventh grade. At that point, I dropped soccer until I started playing it again in high school.”
Anderson’s tremendous speed gives Hightstown a much needed dimension up top it had lost four games into last season when he went down with an injury after scoring five goals.
His return, as well as the reappearance of his classmate Christian Contreras on the high school team after spending his junior year playing academy ball, has coach George Wolkiewicz’ squad off to a 4-0-1 start. That matches the Rams’ 2016 win total.
“We have a lot of guys who played last year, and they’re maturing,” said second-year head coach Wolkiewicz, whose charges got off to a 1-6 start a year ago. “It’s nice having Jamal and Christian back. They play off each other nicely.”
Originally a midfielder, Contreras has been known to get moved into the attack to make Hightstown’s charge that much more hard to defend when Anderson is not the only target.
The reward has been a teamleading seven goals for Anderson, while Contreras has scored two and passed for five assists. Seven different Rams have scored.
“No one wants to be like we were last year,” Anderson said. “We figure we’ve been through all the worst. Now we’re working as a team to be better, and we’re getting the job done.”
Anderson put the home team on the board 5:28 into the game when he converted a pass from Contreras Saturday. Contreras doubled the lead 11 minutes later when he knocked in a pass from Ian Lumkong. Then, with 16 minutes left in the first half, Anderson scored again to push Highstown’s edge to 3-0.
Before the Warriors could change the game’s direction, Contreras slipped a ball through to classmate Andres Uribe 1:08 after the break to increase the lead.
Coach Eric Osman’s Franklin club showed good fight despite its predicament, putting more pressure on Rams goalie Jacob Forst in the final 30 minutes. But the only time the Warriors could cash in was with 18:35 left when junior forward Steve Missal tracked down a long kick from goalkeeper Tom Thigpen to which the defense could not quite catch up.
Anderson knows all about that. He’s hoping to keep highlighting his speed and skill this season as others try to keep up with him.
Franklin (1-2-1) Hightstown (4-0-1) 0 1— 3 1— 1 4
Missal (F), Anderson 2, Contreras, Uribe (H). Thigpen (F), Contreras 2, Lumkong (H). 5 (F), 8 (H).
Thigpen 4 (F), Forst 3 (H).