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Dave Morris entered the season needing five wins to reach a feat that only 13 other girls soccer coaches in Kentucky history have hit.
That's 200 career wins. Morris, a 1976 Highlands alum, is in his 15th season as the head coach of the Campbell County Camels program. They've started the season 3-1 following a 3-2 win over the Simon Kenton Lady Pioneers at home Monday.
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Morris' record stands 198-132-30 in 18 seasons. Morris came over from Walton-Verona in 2007 after serving as head coach there for three years.
Simon Kenton's head coach in Rob Zoeller has hit the 200-win plateau. In his 14th season as a head coach at Simon Kenton and Elizabethtown, Zoeller is 228-73-11. Zoeller is one of five active girls head soccer coaches in the state to have reached 200 victories. The statewide leader is Lexington Catholic 30-year veteran Terry Quigley at 452-198-34. Zoeller also coached the Ballard boys for several seasons.
"The philosophy is keep doing what you're doing," Morris said. "It's something I've thought about. Last year with the shortened season (because of the Coronavirus 2019 Pandemic), you never know what's going to happen in the future. Now it's just a game at a time. Whether I get 200 wins or not is inconsequential."
Morris said he received his 100th career win Oct. 25, 2014 when the Camels won their lone 10th Region title under his guidance by a 2-1 score over Bishop Brossart. But he did not know it until after the game when an assistant coach mentioned it and the team brought out a sign. That team lost 1-0 at West Jessamine in the first round of the state tournament.
Morris said the main goals for the season are to win 37th District and 10th Region Tournament titles. The 37th District seeding is determined during the regular season in games against in-town rival Bishop Brossart, Scott and Calvary Christian. The 37th District seeds its tournament based on regular season match-ups against each other.
The Camels last won the 37th District crown in 2019. That team lost 5-0 to George Rogers Clark in the 10th Region semifinals. But during that season, Campbell County played 10 freshmen. Before that, Morris and staff never played more than three or four freshmen on varsity at a time.
Junior forward Ruby Dunlevy is one of those 10 players who saw action on varsity as a freshman. She had a goal and assist in the win Monday over Simon Kenton.
"This is a great coaching staff," Dunlevy said. "(Morris) does a great job every year. I don't know what we would do without him. We have team bonding every Sunday. (The coaches) always come. We all bond so well."
Senior midfielder Jenna Gies is one of five seniors on the team. She scored the game's first goal Monday. Morris said all the varsity players are playing club soccer. Not many were doing that when he took over in 2007.
Morris had been wanting to implement a ball-possession style of soccer when he took over. The Camels have been there for a while now. He said this is one of the best the Camels have had there in his tenure.
"I think a lot of it is that our team has been together for a few years now," Gies said. "I think we only added three new people to the team total this year. I feel like it's finally coming together this year. We're all connecting well and playing well as a team. Everybody is involved in everything even the TikTok (videos)."
Campbell County led Simon Kenton, 3-0 late in the game. But the Lady Pioneers scored two goals in the game's final 10 minutes to make things interesting. They are led by senior forward Ellie Dreas.
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"I keep telling them there's no longer an excuse for a young team. Now you're an experienced veteran team so you need to finish games and win," Morris said. "I was a little disappointed at the end. We got a little frantic after we got up 3-0. I thought we took our feet off the pedal. I knew Simon Kenton was a great team. With the players they have, they can come back in the last 10 minutes."
The Camels may have small freshmen and sophomore classes. But 20 eighth graders are involved with the program now.
"The number of kids interested in soccer has grown again," Morris said. "It kind of waned there a few years ago. The future is bright for this program."
Campbell County has been playing its home soccer games on the all-purpose field at the school shared by the football team for years. Morris said the team practiced on a grass field behind Campbell County High when he first arrived there. But now the school has two soccer fields in addition to the all-purpose field.
"We've always had involved parents," Morris said. "Now it's grown more than that - grandparents, kids from the student body that come out and support. The great facilities that the school built six or seven years ago has helped. It helps grow the enthusiasm. It shows they want top-level programs in all their sports."
Morris retired from his job as an Engineer for General Electric Aviation in Cincinnati. He does substitute teaching and Engineering Consulting some on the side. But he's able to focus more time on soccer.
"It used to be I was really, really tired as the season wore on because I was working 50, 60-hour weeks then coming straight to soccer," Morris said. "Now, I can actually spend more time on soccer. My own energy is higher when I get to rest."
Morris said George Rogers Clark and Bishop Brossart could be the two main challengers for the 10th Region title. GRC won it four years in a row before Bishop Brossart snapped the string with a 3-1 win in the 10th Region title game last year.
The Camels face a combination of teams from the 9th and 10th Regions the rest of the way. That includes playing Highlands for the first time since 2018 in Alexandria on Sept. 4.
The Highlands boys soccer program did not start until 1985. Morris played on the 1975 Class 3A football state championship team. The Bluebirds under Head Coach Roger Walz beat Franklin-Simpson, 6-0 for the crown.
Campbell County faces Beechwood at home Aug. 18 at 7 p.m. If the Camels take care of Beechwood, Morris could earn his 200th career win at St. Henry on Friday, Aug. 20. That game starts at 7:30 p.m.