In his junior year, Lansing Eastern’s Konray Blamo was the best soccer player in the area.
This fall, he not only led the Quakers to their second consecutive CAAC Silver Cup title, he helped them to within a whisker of a district title.
Blamo led the area in goals with 31, 10 more than last year, but Eastern coach Jeff Davis said that he became a more complete player as a senior, after it became clear that the midfield needed help desperately.
“He changed a lot this year,” Davis said. “For his entire career, he hasn’t liked to get back and defend too much, but this year he made the commitment halfway through the season. I think we only lost two games after that.”
The second of those games was their 2-1 loss in the district final against East Lansing, in which the Trojans scored the winning goal with 28 seconds left in the contest. Blamo scored the Quakers’ only goal.
“All I wanted to do was win the district,” Blamo said. “I tried so hard, but it just didn’t happen.”
His defining moment may have come in the Silver Cup final, in which he scored four times as the Quakers defeated eventual Division 3 state runner-up Williamston 5-3. Blamo tied the score three times and added a late exclamation point, a Maradona moment on his fourth goal. Collecting the ball 30 yards from goal and making a slashing run into the Williamston box, his clinical left-footed finish iced the game and the Cup.
Davis said that Blamo was the undisputed leader of the team, something that didn’t come naturally to someone who came to this country as a refugee from the Ivory Coast when he was 10.
“This year was about what I had to do to reach my goals,” Blamo said. “I learned how to become a captain, I learned how to avoid problems, and I learned how to talk to people. This was my senior year, so I had to do something to leave some history, to win games and go forward.”
Blamo hopes to play college soccer, but still needs to qualify academically. Davis said that he needs to slightly improve his test scores, and is confident that he will. Michigan, Michigan State, Akron and Western Michigan are on his list. But his ambitions do not end there.
“This is just my beginning in soccer,” Blamo said. “I learned a lot in high school, and from here on, I want to go somewhere I can learn a lot. This is the beginning of the journey, and I want to go as far as I can, professional, beyond professional, whatever.”
Davis said that he will be particularly sad to see Blamo leave.
“When your best player is also your best leader and your best kid, it makes coaching easy,” Davis said. “He had 31 goals, but this year was the most unselfish I’ve ever seen him with the ball. It’s still amazing.”