January 29, 2013 10:09:42 AM
STARKVILLE -- Don't limit Taylor Wise just because of his height.
At 6-foot-5, the Starkville High School senior is a not-so-secret weapon in the battle for aerial supremacy.
But presuming Wise's forte is winning headers limits the overall skill set of one of the area's most versatile players. Not only can Wise work as a target player and score goals, but he also can work as a distributor and set teammates up. Those qualities were on display last week, as he scored two goals in a victory against Saltillo and added two more Saturday in a victory against Hernando.
For his accomplishments, Wise is The Dispatch's Prep Player of the Week.
"Every goal I see hit the back of the net just makes me that much happier knowing we are that much closer to going back to back at state," Wise said.
Starkville High School coach Brian Bennett has seen Wise in action for a number of years. He said Wise works well with Juan Salazar, Justin Gordon, and Dylan Howard in the attacking third to make the most of their collective talents.
"Taylor can be that off-the-shoulder forward, making those through runs," Bennett said. "Taylor did that a lot more Saturday, playing and trying to get back behind the defense. Taylor is very good with his feet. He can check back and he can be that target forward."
After the victory against Saltillo on Wednesday, Wise credited Howard by saying his longtime teammate is one of the best distributors he has played with. Bennett said Wise is better on the ground than people would think if they go only on his size. He hopes to get the ball to Wise more in the air to capitalize on his size.
Wise doesn't view himself as one kind of player. He said he has worked since he was 4 years old to balance his skills. That work paid off Saturday when he signed a scholarship to play soccer at Hinds Community College.
"I have always been a forward since I started and been the guy who scored," Wise said. "I have tried my best to help a midfielder or defender when they come up to attack. I try to get back on defense if a midfielder or defender gets caught up in the attack. I try to be a team player as much as I can."
Wise has honed his talents playing Select soccer. He admits "soccer is his life," which has helped so many skills become second nature to him. He said speed and touch are two ingredients good finishers possess. He feels his poise in the heat of the moment combine well with those two traits to put him in that category.
"When it comes down to the moment, to not freak out and be able to place it where you need to put it, that's what it takes to be a good finisher," Wise said. "I am not going to lie. Sometimes I get down there and freak out and I just drill it and hope it goes in. I try my best when I get there with that chance to calm down and not hit it hard and place it in corner. Most of the times it works out for me. Sometimes it doesn't."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.