Kennesaw Mountain Soccer Wins School's First Team State Title


Kennesaw Mountain High School is celebrating its 24th anniversary this year. Over its nearly quarter-century existence, the school has had a lot of individual success at the state level in athletics, but a team state championship proved to be elusive. That changed this past Friday night. The scrappy Mustang boys' soccer team completed an improbable 5-win postseason run that ended with them hoisting the 7A Championship Cup and adding a team state title to the school's sports resume.

On Monday, May 13, the school held a pep rally to celebrate the win and congratulate the reigning 7A champs. All grades reported to the school's gymnasium, along with the marching band and the competition cheer squad, to make some morning noise for the Mustang Boys.


"When we got to the playoffs, we said it was a whole new season. The boys believed, and that was our word throughout the playoffs: Believe," Head Coach Danny DePlanche told the assembled students. "We are so thankful for all the support from the students and fans we received this season, especially throughout the playoffs. We could not have done it without all of you!"


The level of soccer play has been steadily rising in Cobb. Two years ago, Cobb dominated the postseason with an all-Cobb Final Four and a state championship for Harrison. This year, it was an all-Cobb final, with the Mustangs facing crosstown rival Campbell in the last 7A match of the season at Duluth High School.

"I think it shows that Cobb County is catching up with Gwinnett," said Coach DePlanche. "They have been pretty much the gold standard in high school soccer, and we beat three Gwinnett teams in the playoffs this year, which was really cool."

Coach DePlanche is also celebrating a 24th anniversary. The veteran coach and teacher has been in education for 24 years, 20 of those at Kennesaw Mountain. His career has crossed paths with many others in the District, including Chief Strategy and Accountability Officer John Floresta and Campbell Head Coach Troy Connolly.

"I played for Danny in high school and then became an assistant coach under him. The time I spent coaching at Kennesaw Mountain was not only valuable from an experience standpoint, but it also allowed me to build my resume, which in turn played a major role in helping me land a job as a staff coach for one of the biggest soccer clubs in the metro-Atlanta area and no doubt was one of the main reasons I was able to be hired as a head coach and teacher at Campbell High School," Coach Connolly said gratefully. 

The mutual respect between the two head coaches was evident in Friday's championship game, and both had complicated emotions about the outcome.

"Obviously, I hate that we lost the state championship game, but at the end of the day, I’m happy for Danny, and I’m glad the Kennesaw soccer program can hang a state title banner now," Coach Connolly said after the game. "There have been some incredibly talented players and some really good soccer teams that have come through that school over the last 20 years, and I think that finally getting a state title helps give that program the recognition it deserves."

Coach DePlanche expressed a similar sentiment: "It’s a little bittersweet if I am honest. I always pull for any former player to do well after they leave my program. Once we both made the Final, I realized I had to finally pull against him for the first time ever. On the other hand, I told myself if I was ever going to lose a State Final to anyone, Troy would be my choice."

The Mustangs' title win confirms a long process that began 20 years ago. Before the game, Coach DePlanche told his players that they were playing for much more than themselves. 

"I have seen many programs come close, and I would also think about how cool it would be to be able to break the curse and finally bring one home for our school. I told them we were playing for every team here at KMHS and every player that had come before us and that we needed to win this for them," Coach DePlanche said about winning the state title.

"This is such a big deal for our entire community," agreed Mustang Athletic Director Philip Matthews. "It's a validation of a lot of hard work and perseverance. We've had success in individual sports like wrestling, swimming, and track and field over the years, but for us to finally get a team championship in the highest classification in Georgia says so much. It shows it can be done, and I'm really excited about what this means for the future at Kennesaw Mountain."

Congratulations, Coach DePlanche and the Mustang Boys Soccer Team! You are state champions! Congratulations to Coach Connolly and the Spartan Soccer Team for an exceptional season and a state runner-up trophy. We can all be sure that both teams will be back next year to continue taking Cobb soccer to the next level.