Poplar Bluff’s Rowland leads BlaisE-ing offense

Poplar Bluff senior Blaise Rowland (right) celebrates with teammate Kolby Greenwall after a goal last week.
DAR/D’Courtland Christian

The Poplar Bluff Mules boys soccer team has one more regular-season game before it starts the postseason on Saturday against the Sikeston Bulldogs in the Class 3, District 1 Tournament quarterfinals at Northwest High School.

The Mules host top-seeded Farmington at 7 p.m. before taking on the Bulldogs on Saturday.

Poplar Bluff has 13 wins this season, it’s most since 2015 when the Mules finished runner-up in the district tournament.

A big reason for the increased win total is the offense of the Mules this season.

Senior Blaise Rowland has delivered more than 20 goals during his final campaign in a Poplar Bluff uniform, including three against North County in a 6-0 Mules district win on Monday.

For Rowland, he’s been waiting for this week and Saturday’s matchup against the Bulldogs for a long time.

“My whole life has built up to this point it feels like,” he said. “Just got to make sure we’re all locked in and we all play our best game come Saturday.”

Poplar Bluff, the No. 4 seed, beat the No. 5 seeded Bulldogs 2-1 back on Sept. 21 at Mules Stadium.

Rowland said they have to continue what they’ve done well this season.

“We need to stick it in the back of the net, score goals but that comes from our possession,” he said. “If we just possess the ball well, we should be pretty well off.”

With this year being more win than the last two combined for Rowland and his classmates, he said it’s caused them to get closer.

“All of our pieces have to match,” he said was key. “Playing really well this season has strengthened our mindset going into this game because we know we’re capable of better this team. It’s definitely doable.”

Rowland was friends with the late Lane Savant, who passed away during he and Rowland’s sophomore year.

Rowland said his friend is a big reason why he does the things he does.

“It’s definitely driven me more,” he said. “Given me more motivation. When I’m sitting there doing something, it just makes me think I could not be here doing this so it pushes me to do stuff harder.”

After Wednesday’s battle with Farmington, Rowland said he and his teammates will focus on getting rest and doing whatever they need to do to get by Sikeston on Saturday and continue their season.

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