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Defender does it all for top-ranked Owen


10:57 PM, Oct. 30, 2012 EDT

Caleb Ford

SWANNANOA — 

Owen senior Caleb Ford does not play a position on the soccer field known for an abundance of scoring.

The defender is simply so gifted that he cannot help it.

Ford enters tonight's first round of the NCHSAA playoffs with almost twice as many assists (14) as any other Warhorses player. He also ranks second in goals (13) for the state's top-ranked 2-A team.

Owen (19-1-0) is at home for today's 7 p.m. postseason opener with Newton-Conover (12-6-1).

"When we need a goal, the team knows it can count on me, and I like that," Ford said.

"I don't give up, and I'll do whatever it takes for them."

Ford hones his skills in the offseason with the Highland Football Club, where he joins players from such traditional Buncombe County powers as Asheville High, Reynolds and Roberson.

The Warhorses have proved they belong with their first conference championship season in 22 years.

Ford and the rest of the defense have helped goalkeeper Sam Linton record a school-record 13 shutouts.

Owen has averaged 17 wins over the course of the past five years, but a victory tonight would give them 20 in one season for the first time. The Warhorses have been involved in eight one-goal games this season and won them all. They have reeled off 15 straight wins after a 6-1 loss at Christ School on Aug. 30.

"We just have a good mix of chemistry and good skill and talent," Ford said.

"It's huge to be the No. 1 team in the state. And I think it gives us an advantage that we've been in so many close games now that the playoffs are here. We know how to handle that kind of pressure."

Ford hopes to play college soccer for a school in either Florida or North Carolina but has not yet made a commitment.

"The thing I love is that Caleb is pretty selfless," Owen coach Tate MacQueen said.

"He's not out there trying to prove anything to anyone. I think he's only about 5-foot-6 and 140 pounds. But he plays a lot bigger than that."

Team-wise, MacQueen said it's time for the Western Highlands Conference champions to put the regular season behind them.

"We're very proud (of the regular season), but it's in the past, and we're in the present," he said.

"In the playoffs, you see teams tighten up because they realize all they get is 80 more minutes and their season could be over. I think we have the type of team that can handle that the right way."

Beyond all the wins, the Warhorses are also a philanthropic bunch. They teamed up with Swannanoa Valley rival Asheville Christian Academy to raise money for a local chapter of the Special Olympics earlier this month.

The Spirit of Soccer event then continued on Saturday when coaches and players volunteered their time to hold a soccer clinic for Special Olympians.

The two schools hope to make their game an annual event for the Sourwood Community Shield, which is a wooden bowl trophy.

 

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Rank School Record
1 Smoky Mountain High School
Sylva, NC
19-0-0
2 Asheville Christian Academy
Swannanoa, NC
17-4-0
3 Clyde A. Erwin High School
Asheville, NC
17-0-0
4 Christ School
Arden, NC
15-9-0
5 Veritas Christian Academy
Fletcher, NC
9-3-0

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