A blockade of Bunnies

A blockade of Bunnies

FISHER — Has Robbie Dinkins ever been involved with a team like his 2018 Fisher/Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley boys' soccer program?

The answer, surprisingly, is yes.

Back when Dinkins was involved with Wilmington boys' basketball, he oversaw a group through two years of middle school play before leading the ensuing high school freshman team to a 15-1 ledger.

Safe to say, however, those Wildcat hoopsters didn't prevent opponents from scoring in any given game.

Dinkins' Bunnies have done that this season, and not just one time. Not twice. Not even three times.

Try eight times in as many tries, with the latest occurrence coming Monday in a 5-0 home victory over Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Westville.

"Not giving up a goal in (eight) games is amazing," Dinkins said prior to the triumph. "We had 10 shutouts last year total. So that's an impressive start, and the kids are enjoying it."

Fisher/GCMS (8-0) has a goal differential of 32-0, the high point coming with a 1-0 result versus Uni High to win the Illineks' own tournament. This despite key defensive piece Jeremy Steidinger graduating earlier this year.

Junior goaltender Ethan Kasper's development is a major reason for the Bunnies' dominance in Dinkins' first season coaching the team. He's a perfect 33 of 33 making stops after spending time at various summer camps before the season.

Kasper refuses to give himself all the credit for Fisher/GCMS' rise.

"I've seen the heart and I've seen the hustle," Kasper said. "When I've made mistakes, the ball hasn't gone in the net because (my teammates are) busting their butts to get back there. We're 11 guys on the field that play together."

Even so, Kasper's approach to his third year starting in goal has impressed Dinkins, who was a Bunnies assistant the previous five campaigns.

"Last year, he might come out on a ball he shouldn't have. This year, he's not second-guessing himself," Dinkins said. "The kid can jump a lot higher than people probably think, and he's going to sell out. He's going to land on his head if he has to save a goal."

Thankfully it hasn't come to that. What's helped Kasper and his defenders is Fisher/GCMS' penchant for maintaining possession at the other end.

The Bunnies have tallied four or more markers in all but three of their tilts. Seniors Caleb Bleich (10 goals, six assists) and Tyler Ricks (four goals, five assists) are the main catalysts, but nine different athletes — including Kasper — possess at least one goal on the year.

"I'd say (the offense is) probably pretty close to hitting on all cylinders," Dinkins said. "They don't care about stats. They truly like each other, and they want to win."

Well, maybe there is one number Fisher/GCMS is interested in maintaining.

"I think we've developed a sense of pride in getting those shutouts," Kasper said. "We want to continue that streak. That's a whole new level of winning."

The Bunnies' schedule to this point has featured good competition, but tough opponents really ramp up down the road.

Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin, Iroquois West, Unity and Blue Ridge each boast noteworthy scoring power, and Bloomington Cornerstone ended Fisher/GCMS' playoff run the last two seasons.

Should those outcomes favor the Bunnies, they'll be well on their way to a first-ever piece of IHSA postseason hardware.

"It's all looking at the bigger picture right now," Dinkins said. "It's a great start, but we want to be playing our best soccer come regional time."