Eli Kampine has a bearish voice, throaty and ocean-deep. It commands his teammates’ attention from all points of the field.
So believe him when he says this about fellow Montgomery Bell Academy senior captain Quinn Kunath.
“You’ve got guys who come out and all fired up, then you’ve got the guys who lead by example. He leads by example,” Kampine said. “He brings that kind of calm, cool composure.”
Kunath sent his seniors out of the regular season in style Wednesday, tallying two goals and an assist in Montgomery Bell Academy soccer’s 4-0 victory over Hillsboro. It capped an unbeaten regular season for the Big Red (10-0) as they prepare for the TSSAA playoffs.
Kunath spent a few minutes alone as time wound down, allowing a chance to reflect on one of his final high school home games. He has started for the MBA varsity squad since eighth grade and experienced heartbreak in the state finals three times.
The Big Red were Division II-AA state runners-up in 2016, 2017 and 2019, something they hope to rectify later this month at the Spring Fling in Murfreesboro.
“Growing up through the program has been amazing. There’s just been so much growth through the years,” Kunath said. “But since I’ve been here we haven’t (gone unbeaten). We’ve been to the finals three times and lost three times. That would mean so much (to win).”
Nothing about Kunath’s play is soft spoken. He overcame a string of concussions his sophomore season that kept him off the field for two months and has since signed with Roanoke College, a private liberal arts college located east of Jefferson National Forest in Virginia.
“In a nutshell, he means a lot to us,” MBA coach Giles Cheevers said. “This was a good way for him to go out. I played him in eighth grade, but he was just a young boy then. He’s a young man now.”
Professional soccer is maybe the only thing Cheevers and Kunath disagree on. Kunath is a Manchester United fan while Cheevers, who came to MBA after coaching professionally in Ireland, has obvious allegiances.
“He’s a heck of a player,” Cheevers continued. “He’s created a lot for us offensively. Just a good kid, easy to coach.”
Kunath could help deliver one of Cheevers’ crowning achievements at MBA if he and the Big Red finish the season unbeaten with a title.
Not even MBA’s 2015 state title team did that.
Kunath’s trying not to think about that too much. He was carefree during his performance against Hillsboro, doing a lot but not saying much, as usual.
“He’s a quieter guy,” Kampine reminded, “but when he says things we listen.”