Rocky Hulne: Tolbert has done big things for the Packers

Published 6:16 pm Monday, November 9, 2020

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From the moment he stepped on a soccer field for the Packers as a freshman, Henry Tolbert was like the Flash.

He could run past a midfielder, stop on a dime, and deliver a lethal blast at the net, or dump it off to an open teammate for an assist. Tolbert, who was recently named Mr. Soccer, has grown steadily over time and he’s been a big reason why the Packers have become one of the best programs in all of Class A over the past four seasons as they’ve won four straight Big Nine and Section 1A titles.

This season Tolbert, developed an uncanny sense of rhythm with his teammate Andres Garcia, who was a first-team all-stater and led the state in scoring. The two would often weave through bewildered defenders and there were times when they would go on two-on-four and score with ease.

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Tolbert has done all of his damage while remaining quiet and humble. He’s never had an over-the-top celebration and whenever he has received a card, it’s been over a competitive, passionate response to a call, not incessant whining or sulking.

Tolbert’s work ethic and drive have made him second to none, but his humility has never been more on display than it was on Friday night. I was caught a little bit by surprise when I saw Mr. Soccer standing on Austin’s sideline in his soccer cleats, wearing No. 80 for the Austin Packer football team.

Tolbert saw limited action as a kick returner, but he certainly showed he is willing to do something that is hard and he may not succeed at, which is a strong quality in a person.

If Tolbert keeps that attitude, he’ll be successful in wherever life takes him.

Any words about the Austin soccer program would come up far short if keeper Casey Berg wasn’t mentioned. Berg, a first-team all-stater, was the general of a Packer defense that is as stingy as they come in the back line.

Berg’s leadership and ability to read an opposing team’s attack helped Austin shut teams down at will.

Tolbert, Garcia and Berg are three Packers who are among the best the program ever put on the field and whoever has to replace them next season will have some giant shoes to fill.