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Eagles eye start of playoffs

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Decatur Eagles charge into the playoffs for the second time in the program’s history Tuesday.

The Eagles will play a Class 4A Region I area round match against the winner of Friday’s bi-district game between Byron Nelson and Fort Worth Brewer.

HEADING INTO PLAYOFFS - Decatur's Devon Willis jumps to head a ball. The Eagles will start the playoffs Tuesday against Byron Nelson or Brewer. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

After Decatur posted a program-best record of 4-4-2 in District 9-4A play, Eagles’ goalkeeper Wade Laughlin said he’s ready for the postseason.

“We’ve been working hard this week to get ready,” Laughlin said about his playoff debut. “I don’t know how it’s going to be. I’m a little nervous. But I’ll be able to get through it.”

The Eagles will not be at full strength for Tuesday. Senior standout defender Taylor Spence is still slowed by an ankle injury.

“I hope we can tape it enough for him to jog around,” said Decatur coach Nick Stokes. “He will not be able to take our free kicks. We hope to have him out there to communicate and direct people.”

With Spence slowed, the Eagles will move one of their top midfielders, Harry Boatman, to the back line with Reece Fitzgerald and Spence.

“Harry has dropped back and played well, but it hurts us more in the midfield,” Stokes said.

Freshman Eddy Martinez is stepping in to take Boatman’s midfield spot.

The Eagles will need a strong performance from Laughlin in goal. Stokes said the sophomore has continued to improve throughout the season.

“He’s done a great job and gained a lot more confidence,” Stokes said. “He’s growing as a player, and his voice is growing on the team. He’s been able to communicate more to his defense.”

Laughlin said his defense has helped him.

“They’ve been solid,” he said.

If Byron Nelson is the opponent, they will play host to Eagles Tuesday. Decatur would play Brewer at home, if Brewer wins Friday.

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