The landscape of the 28th district will look a little different for boys soccer as two teams feature new coaches and two teams boast key returning players.
Madison Central finished with a 13-7-1 record under first-year coach Brock Sutherland. The Indians also won their second straight district title, which earned them a trip to the region tournament. To duplicate that feat, the Indians will have to do so with another first-year coach. Sutherland left for West Jessamine and Central hired Jeremy Anderson as his replacement.
Anderson has 11 years of experience in coaching in Kentucky and Tennessee, part of which includes time with the Olympic Development Program in Tennessee. He also works as a sports director at the Madison Indoor Soccer Complex.
The Indians lost 11 seniors from last year’s team, but a crop of juniors could lead the way as they try to make another district title run.
“I’ve got a strong group of juniors,” Anderson said. “And a good core of seniors, but to be honest, the class of juniors I’ve got with Daniel Parke and Austin McAllister could pretty much run the team.”
Senior Rafeal Garcia returns as a major scoring threat for the Indians and the team also has a senior at keeper — Josh Jones.
“Rafeal Garcia is someone everyone is going to double team on,” Anderson said. “He’s a real engine on our team offensively. Josh Jones holds down the back, a very vocal team leader.”
Like Sutherland before him, Anderson likes his teams to possess and put pressure on the opposing side.
“We like to make the other chase and work and let the ball do our work for us,” he said. “We want to be as disciplined and organized as possible.”
Even with a first-year coach and a cast made up of mostly juniors, the Indians won’t shy away from aiming high, Anderson said.
“Our ultimate goal is to get through region,” he said. “Our region is one of the toughest in the state. If we can make it through the region, I think we can make a run through the state tournament.”
Madison Southern (15-5-1)
The Eagles were a shootout away from winning the 14th Region, but dropped a 2-1 decision to Dunbar.
Southern also won 15 straight games, which was bookended by a regular-season loss to Madison Central and 2-0 setback to the Indians in the district title game. An effort to duplicate a successful season will have to come without coach Ron Horn, who has been replaced by James Ray.
Ray has eight years of high school coaching experience, the last half of which came at Southwestern High School. Ray led the Warriors to a 48-28-9 record during that span while winning two district titles and reaching one region title game.
So Ray is prepared for higher expectations at Southern.
“Anytime you have success that raises the thought process of the team and everyone around the program, striving to compete at that level not only the next year but every year following that, trying to make that the norm for the program,” he said.
The Eagles lost 11 players from last year’s squad, so the new coach will be leading a lot of new faces.
“There’s some talented players on the team and some of them are guys who haven’t played before,” Ray said. “We have some first-year kids out who have really come along strong.”
Two returning pieces will be key to Southern’s success. Junior Salvador Carmona and senior Tyler Hellerd got international experience over the summer, and should be major contributors for the Eagles.
Berea Community (6-12-3)
While the Pirates have some key pieces returning, coach Casey Poynter is going to need a strong effort from his younger players for the Pirates to compete.
With last year’s biggest scoring threat in Major McGraw returning, Poynter now gets to add a missing piece from 2010. Ben Lark moved out of state for his junior year, but returns for his senior campaign to bolster an already quick offensive club.
“Lark has stepped back in nicely, without missing a beat really,” Poynter said. “He’s an excellent player.”
The Pirates also return Chris Kidd, Conner Cartmill and Ben Miller, three parts of last year’s defense. Kidd and Cartmill are key defenders and Miller could be one of the best keepers in the region, Poynter said.
“I think he’s (Miller) got a real good shot at being the best keeper in our district, maybe in our region -- he’s that good,” he said.
With those aspects squared away, the question for Berea will be midfield play, where Poynter will be relying on untested talent.
“The key for us is going to be progressing the younger players throughout the season to fill the gaps,” he said. “If the youth steps up to play these positions the seniors are not playing, we’re going to have a shot at the district.”
Model Laboratory (10-6-1)
For the Patriots, it will be a matter of some things lost and some things gained in 2011. Model lost two of its key parts to graduation in Josh Rauhauser and Josh Arnwine.
Rauhauser anchored the Model defense while scoring three goals and handing out three assists. Arnwine average more than a goal at game with 23 scores in 17 games. He also earned 11 assists, both led the club in 2010.
“That’s the main things we’ve been working on is trying to find a big body for a stopper and somebody who can shoot,” Model coach Steve Savage said.
Luckily, the Patriots have a couple extra pieces for 2011. Senior Alex Brubaker and junior John Reisig missed last season because of injuries.
“We’re hoping these guys will work in,” Savage said. “They’re coming along. We’re just working on making them better, and more consistent, strikers.”
They return along with Hunter Conner, who was second on the team with 14 goals in 16 games in 2010.
With Arnwine and Rauhauser gone, the Patriots lost more than just skill and experience. Model will also miss their size.
“The main problem we may have this year is we don’t have the size we had last year,” Savage said. “We’ll have to see how that works out. We’ve got a bit of speed and good skill, so if we can group that into goals, we should have a good year.”