Sharpstown High School is the last HISD team standing in the soccer playoffs this season as the state semifinal tournament looms in Waco. A big reason for the Apollos’ success is goalie Blaise Mucho and attacking forward Israel Okoroji.
Sharpstown head coach Greg Bowles is pleased with the performance of his two standout players.
“First, they are just good players,” Bowles said. “Blaise is obviously a big kid who is a talented goalkeeper, knows what he is doing and is coachable. He also has that free spirit and I really like that.
“With Israel…he is almost like a Patrick Beverley [NBA player] on offense where he can score because he’s got skills while also putting that pressure on their defenders.”
The Defender spoke with Mucho and Okoroji before a practice session to discuss their styles of play, reasons for playoff success and overall love of the game.
Defender: How would you describe your style of play as a goalie?
Mucho:I organize my defense and do what is necessary for my team to win by leading the team with my voice through our struggles.
Defender: How did you get into playing soccer?
Mucho:It started off when I was a kid. It was all I knew because everyone in my family played soccer so I just grew up playing it. I never liked it at first but I started to love it and that’s all I do.
Okoroji:I started when I was in my home country of Nigeria. I loved to play and watch people play.
Defender: What do you attribute the team’s playoff success to so far?
Mucho:We have a really strong attacking team. Our forwards score goals and we get up there [in points].
Defender: What has been the mantra keeping you guys going this year?
Defender: How would you say this offense has been able to continue to put points on the board and advance in the playoffs?
Okoroji:Communication. My teammates and I are good at communicating. We talk a lot and that helps us to know what we do. Communicating is the key to our victories and scoring goals.
Defender: What do you think it will take to bring home a state championship this season?
Okoroji:I think it will take hard work, improving our communication skills and also having God on our side and praying because we are a praying team. We can’t do anything by ourselves. It is God’s grace that has led us this far.
Defender: What about the game winning goal you scored against Texas City in the playoffs?
Okoroji:It wasn’t an easy one because the ball was high and I had to jump high to get it. What led me to score the goal is the way we train because we know we have the game coming up. The team spirit had me hungry for the win and if I have to score for us to get a win that is what I will do. I was hungry for the win because I know more games are ahead.
Favorite subject: Math
Favorite food: Hamburgers
World problem he would solve: Hunger
Favorite food: Jollof fries
Soccer players he studies: Ronaldinho, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi Shout-outs: “Mom, dad, siblings and friends