Palestine Wildcat head soccer coach John Absalom became the fourth coach on the Texas Association of Soccer Coaches list, and 15th coach all-time according to the National Federation of High Schools, to reach 600 career wins following his teams 15-0 win over the Westwood Panthers Friday night.
Coach Absalom has accumulated this career mark across four schools, Killeen, Whitehouse, Jacksonville and Palestine. 354 of those wins came as the head coach of Palestine with 314 on the boys side and 40 on the girls.
Among those wins were four trips to the state tournament and one state championship in boys soccer.
A large part of his success has been this year's Wildcat senior class, who have accounted for 118 wins during their four-year tenure with Palestine. That fact is perhaps more enjoyable for coach Absalom then his overall 600 wins.
“It's so much more than the wins,” Absalom said. “The kids have bought into what we want to do here. When they come in as freshmen you're like a mentor to them. You can't beat that. Here the kids know we have to work hard. We have a goal and that's get to the state tournament.”
Coach Absalom has been coaching nearly 30 years and was proud to say this is perhaps the “most coachable” group he has been a part of. The Wildcats are deep in terms of depth and dedication to their ultimate goal.
It's what has helped them become then number-one ranked 4A team in Texas, run their current winning streak to 23 games, their district winning streak to 52 games and their home unbeaten streak to 62 games.
It's also what keeps Coach Absalom motivated and reach accolades he never thought possible when he first started at Killeen.
“I'm surrounded by very good coaches and the support system of the school,” Absalom said. “That makes your job enjoyable. The community is all into soccer. It's a soccer town. How can you not get excited about it?”
On such an already meaningful night, the Wildcats clinched their sixth consecutive district title.
15 different players found their way onto the scoresheet. Gary Munoz scored four goals and had one assist. Tony Garcia added a hat trick. J.J. Garcia and Arturo Nieto had two goals each with Nieto adding two assists. Andy Garcia scored one and assisted on three.
Luis Rangel had one goal and one assist. Jonathan Sanchez and Christian Hutchinson finished with one goal each.
Lizardo Lemus, Alex Garcia, Diego Farias, David Arredondo, Jhan Vazquez, Abrahan Nunez and Ian Garcia all had one assist. Hutchinson earned another clean sheet with help from Vazquez, Brian Armenta, Yoriel Reyes, Lemus, Ian Oliva, Arredondo, Esiel Vigil, Alex Garcia and Michael Guzman.
Now the road to 700 wins begins.
“One day I'll wake up and I'll realize I don't have that burning desire anymore. That's when I'll hang up my boots. Until then I'm going to keep rolling.”
The ‘Cats will travel to Mexia Tuesday to take on the Blackcats at 5:30 pm.