WHERE ARE THEY NOW
August 12, 2011Rossville Middle High School
BOYS SOCCER: Low numbers hinder Hornets
Rossville has 11 players for season
By Phil Friend
ROSSVILLE – Rossville’s boys’ soccer team has a bit of a numbers problem.
The Hornets only have 11 players on their roster this season, meaning every player on the team will play a full 80 minutes. That’s great for those looking for the maximum amount of playing time, but not having the chance to grab a breather during a game could also be problematic.
“The most difficult part is preparing for practice because you don’t have the numbers to run games against each other,” Rossville head coach Joel Wilson said. “As far as the games, I think these guys will be ready. As long as they stay injury-free, these guys have the soccer knowledge and capability of being competitive with 11 guys.”
Four seniors – Joe Murphy, Kirk Holden, Justin Baker and Aron Long – make up the core of the team and were on the field for the biggest victory in the program’s history last year – a 3-2 win over McCutcheon in the sectional, giving the Hornets a spot in the championship game.
But RHS has to replace its top two scorers in Ian Brown and Kai Quinton, and Brown was among the state leaders in goals scored. Stepping in at forward in the Hornets’ 4-4-2 formation are seniors Long and Baker.
“I think it gives the guys that were in that group last year a lot of confidence,” Wilson said. “I’ve seen Aron and Justin step up offensively. We have a void and someone has to step up. I think they’re excited to take on that role.”
Although they’re listed as the two starting forwards, that won’t be a permanent role. Wilson said all 11 players will play multiple positions depending on what the opposing team’s strategy is.
In the midfield are expected to be a senior, Kirk Holden, and three freshmen: Austin Higbee, Cory Hufford and Zane Gottschalk.
Junior Eli Wilson returns as the goalkeeper, but could also see action in midfield because Higbee will also get a look in the net.
“We’re still kind of working things out,” Wilson said.
On the defensive front, Wilson plans to employ a “flat-back four” which means Rossville will play without a sweeper. Senior Joe Murphy anchors the back and is joined by junior Ben Welk, senior Quinton Hufford and freshman Jacob Taylor. Quinton Hufford missed a majority of last season to a knee injury.
“We’re going to see how that goes,” said Murphy, who’s going into his second season as a starter. “It’s a different concept but coach thinks it’s going be a stronger formation we can go with. It’ll be interesting back there, but once we get down what we’re doing, it’ll be a solid unit.”
The makeup of the team is unique, with four seniors to go along with five freshmen and two juniors.
“We all just got to be careful and not get hurt,” Murphy said. “We’ve got a lot of talent and a strong senior core. It’s going to be an interesting year. But as long as we’re all flexible and try our hardest, we’re going to be alright.”
Wilson says the Hornets need to play as one, cohesive unit in order to have success.
“We’re one unit and we’ve got to communicate, read for each other and move back and forth as far as positions,” he said.
Wilson does say that this year’s team has more speed than last year.
“They are able to kick the ball around a little bit better,” Wilson said. “We’ll probably look to more of a control game as much as we can. We don’t have the energy to take people one-on-one all the time.”
Using the McCutcheon victory as a springboard for this season may prove difficult with only 11 players, but Murphy says the game will always be memorable.
“It was the most exciting game we’ve ever played,” Murphy said. “We played to our best and it was awesome to play like that, especially against such a big school.”
Rossville opens the season at home Tuesday against Sheridan.