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Dacula boys surge to front in 8-AAAAA

The Region 8-AAAAA boys soccer schedule plays out differently most years, then it concludes with the same scenario -- Brookwood vs. Parkview for the region title.

Those two powers play tonight, but not in their usual winner-takes-all matchup since both those boys teams already have two region losses. That leaves them trailing Dacula, the unlikely leader in the chase for the 8-AAAAA boys title.

Dacula is 10-3 overall and 4-0 in the region, with one of those 8-AAAAA wins over Brookwood.

"I think we have (surprised some people), we beat Brookwood (March 30) and that was the first win in Dacula history over a traditionally strong program like that," said Dacula boys coach Mike Burrell, an Augusta native in his fourth year with the Falcons after coming over from South Gwinnett. "The kids are excited. They came into the season thinking we had a good chance at winning region and making state."

The Falcons, who have 12 seniors and use seven to eight of them in the playing rotation, have building up to this breakthrough season. There is plenty of work left, starting tonight with Meadowcreek (7-4, 4-2), followed by games with Shiloh and South Gwinnett (two region wins between them). They close the season with Parkview.

Burrell knows plenty about the 8-AAAAA boys soccer tradition -- he heard about it even when he played high school. And his wife Jacyln played soccer at Brookwood.

But for the moment, 8-AAAAA has a new favorite for the region title.

"Right now, I love how it's going, it's great," Burrell said. "We're just looking to stay perfect in the region. That in itself would be the most amazing thing."

One of the area's most explosive attacks has keyed Dacula's success.

Junior Ado Junuzovic, the son of Bosnian immigrants who spent last summer playing for Bosnia's under-17 national team, has 26 goals and eight assists. He joins creative playmaker Luis Huertas in a dynamic offense that also features a veteran midfield led by Jeisson Giraldo, Derek Jones, Jamie Gleeson and Michael Kanu.

That group has put up big numbers against top teams, scoring four on Norcross, three on Brookwood and two on defending state champion Collins Hill.

The defense has talent, too, including Berry signee and four-year starter Chris Jeanfreau in front of goalie Kris Alonzo, a North Georgia signee.

The mix has the Falcons way ahead of last season, when they finished 9-9 and lost 3-1 to Collins Hill in the state playoff opener.

"This year we have a little more experience, a little more depth and a little more maturity," Burrell said.