Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Combs' early start a boon for Cobras

He was a preschooler among prepubescents. Four-year-old Scotty Combs, who always seemed to hang with the older bunch, found himself alongside kids essentially twice his age on the under-8 Raiders of the Hudson Youth Soccer League.

So imagine the exuberance when Combs' teammate and next-door neighbor, Gary Gasser, lofted a corner kick to Scotty that the precocious tyke punched into the net for the first goal of his life.

"I remember after I scored my whole family ran out onto the field," he recalled.

These days, the familial euphoria is far more contained, perhaps because the goals are far more frequent.

On a Hudson High team brimming with talented role players — goalkeeper Todd Rushing contorting himself to block shots, sweeper Josh Fox starting the offense from the back, midfielders Zack Wynn and Taylor Lamphier setting the table — Combs is the diminutive dynamo who finishes.

He enters tonight's Class 4A region final against two-time defending state champ Ponte Vedra Beach Nease with 47 goals on the season.

And what a surreal season it has been. Hudson (19-5-3) is one victory shy of the state tournament.

"It's scary and exciting at the same time," Combs said. "Nerve-wracking. All in one."

Just don't expect the magnitude of the moment to affect Combs' aggressiveness; it takes far more than that. In the past year, Combs has broken an ankle, had a hip pop out of place, pulled a quad muscle and sustained assorted cleat marks to his person.

Yet he remains, pound for pound, one of the boldest and most resilient shooters still standing in the playoffs. When Combs (5-foot-7, 137 pounds) broke his right ankle last February in the first minute of the first game of the club season, he waited at least a week before consulting a doctor.

"He's one of those guys that, if nothing's broken, he's not coming out of the game," said Cobras coach Paul Vescio, who has coached Combs on one team or another the past five years.

"He's got some really nice ball-handling skills, his speed is great and he's just not afraid to shoot the ball. I want my guys to shoot; there's a green light on every guy there. When they lock him down we try to get other guys involved, but he's going to get loose at least once."

Stands to reason. Combs has eight goals in Hudson's past four matches.

"For his size," Vescio said, "he's a tough kid."

tonight's match

Ponte Vedra Beach Nease (23-2-1) at Hudson (19-5-3)

When: 7 p.m.

Admission: $6

At stake: A berth in the Class 4A state tournament, beginning Thursday at the University of Tampa

Combs' early start a boon for Cobras 02/12/09 [Last modified: Thursday, February 12, 2009 11:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. What you need to know about Bucs training camp


    Bucs training camp is here.

    This morning was the first of 13 practices that are free and open to the general public, so we have all the details to answer your questions about where and when and so on.

    Dirk Koetter is nothing if not precise, with practices starting at 8:45 a.m. and running until 10:27. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Fennelly: It's high time for Bucs to take Tampa Bay back


    TAMPA — Welcome to the proving ground.

    Bucs training camp begins today.

    Hard Knocks and flop sweat.

    Work and more work.

    "We have a lot to prove,'' wide receiver Mike Evans (13) says. "We're good on paper, but we've got to do it." [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  3. HomeTeam 100: Players 1-10


    When he's not holding things down on the O-line, Nicholas Petit-Frere is holding his own in the classroom with a 3.7 grade-point average. (Andres Leiva, Times)
  4. HomeTeam 100: Football's a slam dunk for Nicholas Petit-Frere


    Berkeley Prep senior Nicholas Petit-Frere is one of the nation's most coveted offensive tackle recruits in the class of 2018. (Andres Leiva, Times)
  5. Rays morning after: How exactly did they let that game slip away


    Rays manager Kevin Cash assumed Thursday's game was over when Gary Sanchez rolled a ground ball toward the shortstop spot with the tying run on third and two outs in the ninth. So did closer Alex Colome. As well as second baseman Tim Beckham.

    Gary Sanchez of the New York Yankees drives in Brett Gardner to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth inning.