Pure Finisher: Rochester Hills Christian senior Jessie Montgomery establishing himself amongst state’s best goal scorers |
BY DAN STICKRADT
ROCHESTER HILLS — Jesse Montgomery took the soccer ball, deked his defender to his left, and laced a perfectly-placed, left-footed laser into the upper 90 of the net from about 25 yards out.
For some, that’s a goal to remember. For Montgomery, it has become the norm.
Montgomery, now a senior at tiny Rochester Hills Christian, which has around 90 high school students, has developed into one of Oakland County’s most prolific goal scorers during his stellar career and with high school soccer in Michigan just weeks away from the state tournaments, the talented striker hopes to go out with a bang.
“I would like to get our (scoring) record, but I would rather win the state title this year,” said Montgomery, who also plays basketball and baseball for the school.
On the soccer pitch, Montgomery ranks in the top five in numerous single-game, single-season and career scoring records at the school. Rochester Hills Christian soccer coach Jerry Slota said that having players of Montgomery’s caliber doesn’t happen every year at a small school.
“He’s talented. We’ve had some good players over the years, but you don’t have them every year,” said Slota. “We’re lucky to have him. He’s been a big part of our team since we brought him up to varsity. As for scoring goals, he’s one of the best finishers we’ve ever had here.”
Montgomery has 142 goals and 30 assists during his career at Rochester Hills Christian, which has a long history of success in the Michigan Association of Christian Schools circles and against Division 4 schools. The Eagles won consecutive state titles (1989-1992) with several long tournament runs over the years.
The previous school career record for goals was 110 set by two former standouts (Mark Pickering, 1987-90 and Jonathan Bjerke, 1993-96).
So far this season, Montgomery has scored 23 goals with four assists, four hat tricks and converted all four penalty kicks this season to lead the 9-3-0 Eagles, who are in the league title chase in the Fundamental Baptist Athletic Conference Red Division.
As a junior, Montgomery led Oakland County in scoring with 39 goals and 13 assists, one of the highest single-season totals in school history. He registered 37 goals and seven assists as a sophomore and 28 goals and five assists as a freshman.
The telling tale came during Montgomery’s eighth grade year. He played on the school’s junior varsity most of the season but under the National High School Federation sub-100 student rule, which allows eighth grade athletes to play varsity if the school has 99 or fewer students in grades 9-12 or seventh and eighth grade students to play varsity if the school has 49 or fewer students in grades 9-12, was called up to varsity late in the season. He scored 15 goals with one assist in only five games, actually leading the Eagles in scoring.
Montgomery helped RHC claim the MACS Division I state title as a junior, one of four Eagles to convert in the shootout during a 1-0 victory over defending champ Davison Faith Baptist. The Eagles finished with 16-3-1 overall record in 2012, including a victory over MHSAA Division 4 state semifinalist Burton Genesee Christian earlier in the season.
Montgomery has never played for the U.S. Soccer Academy. In fact, he took a couple of years off club soccer all together, although he will play club ball for the Magic Soccer Club this winter and next spring as well as continue to play basketball and baseball for the Eagles.
The lightning-quick Montgomery played shooting guard and was a defensive stopper on the Eagles’ MACS D-I state championship basketball team last winter that finished 24-3, while he played second base on the school’s MACS state runner-up baseball team.
“As long as my grades are fine, I will try to play all of these sports again this year,” said Montgomery. “I am looking forward to playing club soccer again. I really want to play (soccer) in college next year.”
Montgomery is starting to generate some small-college interest and hopes to help self-promote himself through various recruiting agencies over the next several months.
“He’s good enough to play in college, no doubt,” added Slota.
But for the humble Montgomery, helping his team win championships is his only goal right now. The Eagles are a win away from clinching their first conference title since the mid-1990s, while they are likely the No. 1 seed in the upcoming MACS D-I state tournament.
“We want to win the league this year and win back-to-back state championships for the first time since before I was born,” said Montgomery. “I just want to do whatever it takes to help us (succeed).”
Helping the Eagles succeed is setting up goals and scoring them — in bunches. That’s what Jesse Montgomery does best.
(Dan Stickradt is Senior Editor for Digital Daily www.northoaklandsports.com and The Real Deal sports and coupons magazine, as well as a freelance writer for multiple media outlets, including State Champs! High School Sports Show website. He is a 20-year veteran sports journalist based in Oakland County, Mich. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @LocalSportsFans.)