Player of the year profiles: Manuel Felipe, boys soccer player of the year | Sports

Manuel Felipe is The News Courier’s 2021-2022 Boy’s Soccer Player of the Year after a career that has seen his team win multiple district and area titles while also making an all-star North/South game in the state.

The multi-all-county member played for The Rattlers every season since 8th grade and became a fixture of the program.

Head coach Matt Smith said that after a career that has set fire to northern Alabama with his playing ability, opposing sides “will be glad he’s gone.”

The News Courier interviewed Felipe and Coach Smith to discuss Felipe’s legacy at Tanner football, his future and some of his fondest memories.

Manuel Philip

Felipe has a Tanner career that dates back to 8th grade. He has won multiple County Tournament titles during his career, including the most recent title last season.

He’s also been part of multiple Area Tournament titles, made the All-County team several times, and has been a consistent goalscorer for several seasons.

“I started when I was in my 8th grade. I started at JV about half the season, and then one of my cousins ​​goes up to Coach Matt and says, ‘Hey, let this guy get a chance on the field.’ Coach Matt listened and I’ve been one of his key players ever since,” he said.

Tanner often plays up to her competition in terms of classification level. For example, in recent seasons they have beaten 6A Athens and 5A East Limestone while they have also faced 7A Sparkman and 7A Mountain Brook and will face Sparkman and 7A Bob Jones again soon.

They also play against the likes of Mars Hill, who has provided a constant dose of competition, with one of Felipe’s favorite memories from last season working against them.

“They had beat us at their house and then we beat them (at home) 3-2. I had the feeling that we dominated this game.”

Also on his resume are goals and assists in the North/South All-Star Game, a premier showcase for athletes statewide who play on elite teams.

“It was very different from just regular high school teams,” he said. “They picked the top 11th graders in the state. It was fun and I met a lot of new people.”

Felipe said his favorite player at a professional level is Vinicius Junior, a Brazilian who plays for Spanish super team Real Madrid, one of the best programs in the world.

For his plans after high school, Felipe wants to make an important contribution to his father’s landscaping company called Felipe Landscaping.


Coach Matt Smith spoke to The News Courier about what Felipe has meant to Tanner Soccer over the past 5 seasons.

Smith on Felipe’s first varsity moment

“I thought he was too small in his 8th year. A couple of my assistants said, ‘Coach, just try it.’ From that point on — halfway through his 8th grade — he started from there through the end of his senior year,” Smith said.

Smith on Felipe’s scoring ability

“I think in his 8th year he ended up scoring like 7 or 8 goals. Every year since then, with the exception of the pandemic year, he has scored about 25 goals or more. (That year) we only had 7 games and he was still out at the time because he scored 11 goals in 7 games. It was his 10th year and it was tough because we had a really good team that year. But every year everyone we played was like, ‘Hey man, when does number 11 graduate?’ He’s one of those guys who started very young and everyone was wondering when he was going to graduate.”

Smith at senior level from Felipe

“The players always make the coaches. Ask anyone and they’ll say I’m a senior run guy. Manuel’s senior group, they did everything. They chose what uniform we wore in each game and I would meet with them after each game,” he said. “These older guys like Manuel talked to everyone, even the seventh graders.

Smith added that Felipe came on as vocal leader for the team, having been described by Smith as the quieter type for most of his career.

He also credits Felipe with helping make the program what it is today.

“When I took over, we had 15 or 16 players in the program. Now, next year, we will have 48 in the program. We added a middle school program, JV and Varsity. So last year that was the first year we were able to do that, and next year we’ll be able to do the same. We have the schedules and everything.”

This is profile #15 of 22 featured in The News Courier for Limestone County Player of the Year in their respective sports.

Remaining profiles for The News Courier include Fortune Wheeler (football), Abigail Mason (girls bowling), Jacey King (cheer), Jayden Green (band), Athens High E-Sports Team, Alex Killen (boys tennis) and Punarvi Mandadapu (girls tennis).

These remaining profiles will be featured in forthcoming print and online editions of The News Courier, and the 15 previously featured profiles will also be available online and in print.

Congratulations to Felipe and the rest of the Player of the Year award winners.

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