By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
TERRY Joseph Mosko has been leading by example for the Bahamian soccer connection at Darlington School Academy in Rome, Georgia.
Affectionately called “TJ,” Mosko has not only been named the co-captain of the boys’ under-18 team this year, but he has been one of their leading scorers in the three years he has been on the team.
“I’ve been here for three years now and with the new guys coming in, I’ve been trying to set the bar high at the beginning of the season, so that we can go into the season very strong,” Mosko told The Tribune.
As the leader of the team that includes fellow 12th grader Chris Rahming and 11th grader Ethan Willie, Mosko said there’s still a lot of work for them to do, but they have a very good group of young players that are capable of performing very well this year.
“We’re moving forward as a team. We have a little rocky path right now, but as the season progresses, we will work through them and will only get better,” said Mosko, who along with Rahming is 17 years old.
When he first enrolled at Darlington School, Mosko admitted that it wasn’t an easy transition, but he managed to get through it and now he’s trying to pass on as much of his knowledge to his teammates before he makes the next step to the collegiate level.
Assistant coach Kevin Ray said Mosko and the rest of the Bahamian players have been a welcome addition to Darlington School because of the high level of performance that they brought to Georgia.
“This is my fifth year in the programme but our academy director, Chad Little, is in his 13th year. He’s had a number of kids coming from the islands when he first started the academy,” said Ray, who also serves as the director of soccer academy operations.
“Every year, Chad will go to the Bahamas and he’s worked with the (Bahamas Football) Association and the local coaches there and he’s encouraged them to send their players to Darlington so that they can be seen and get ready to play at the next level, which is college football.”
Little, the soccer head coach, normally makes his annual trip to the Bahamas for the Darlington School Fair in November and they’ve had an opportunity to develop a solid working relationship with the Bahamas and the BFA.
“TJ has evolved from a young player into a very mature player on our team,” Ray stressed.
“He’s now in his senior year and he’s one of our captains and he came in ready to play. He played exceptionally this weekend in the CASL Qualifier as Darlington won all four games they played in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Mosko clinched Darlington’s opening 1-0 win on a penalty shot and he came through with one of the goals in their 3-0 victory in their final game. While they finished in a 0-0 tie in their second game, Willie struck for one of the goals in their 3-1 win in their third game.
“Ethan is a new kid to me, but he came in this year as a very strong and powerful kid and so we are expecting some great things from him,” Ray stated.
“Chris has been with us for the four years and he has also blossomed into an accomplished player and he should be getting some good looks from colleges as will TJ.”
Ray said they also have high expectations for Anthony Dias, a 10th grader on their under-16/17 boys team.
“He’s growing every day. He stepped up playing in the centre back or full back role and he’s been an exceptionally gifted defender,” Ray said. “I think there will be a lot of good things to come from him as well.”
Last year, Mosko and Rahming helped Darlington School to capture the Gulf State National Premier League regular season as the number one team in their group before they went on to win the tournament against the top four teams.
The NPL Finals is US Club Soccer’s league-base national championship.
This year, Darlington has already gotten their season started with a 4-2-2 win-loss-draw record and next weekend they will be back in action when they travel to Gulfport, Mississippi to officially start their US Club Soccer League.
In total, over the 10-month period, Darlington will play about 40-50 games, including a few friendly games like the one they did on August 29 against Shorter University where they won 1-0 at home.
With the way the Bahamian connection, led by Mosko, has been performing, Ray said they are hoping that at the end of the season, Darlington School will repeat as the NPL champions.
And when they’re done, Mosko said he and Rahming are looking forward to taking their talent to the next level in college as they are still looking at all of the options ahead of them.