Boys' soccer preview: Centennial dressed for success
It works in the NFL, where teams can designate a few athletes to be on a taxi squad. They are a part of a team but won’t be on the active roster until they have been activated.
Centennial soccer coach Andrew Peralta has instituted a similar policy.
He had a turnout of 54 players this fall and cut no one. He is dressing 20 on the varsity and 20 on the junior varsity.
The roster isn’t set in stone each week. Third-year coach Peralta has what he calls a “player pool.”
Substitutions onto each unit can be made, he said, “depending on play at practice.”
Thus far, two players from the original varsity list have been sent down and two others summoned. More changes can occur.
“They will have the opportunity to make it back up, if their play dictates,” Peralta said. “The best fight is for those who get to travel with the team.”
There’s more to the idea than keeping practices inspired and competitive.
“This helps to protect us against low numbers due to injuries, grades or behavioral issues,” Peralta said. “The freshmen, for the most part, start the year at the bottom but should fight their way up by the end.
“I’m excited to see how it will work.”
The 2-3-4 combination. Oakwood coach Eric Fenton has a lineup that features two fourth-year starters, four third-year starters and three second-year regulars.
Landon Turner (goalkeeper) and Owen Bennett (defender) are the four-year mainstays, though Bennett has been shifted to forward.
The three-year stalwarts are Mason Welch (midfielder) and three defenders: Kerrick Sweetland, Steven Mackiewicz and Austin Shelton.
The two-year starters are Evan Wangler (forward), Cameron Haskins (midfielder) and Mitchell Day (midfielder).
“All 11 of my starters have started at some point before this season,” Fenton said. “Those players have basically been starting every game as long as they were healthy. Plus, Karamon Samuel (senior) has started off and on since his freshman year and Liam White (senior) off and on since his sophomore year.”
Area talent abounds. Seven of the 13 athletes who earned All-Area first-team accolades last year were underclassmen. Seven area schools have one elite player back: Blue Ridge (Dylan Grammer), Centennial (Nathaniel Hinds), Champaign Central (Emmanuel Komba), Danville (Cameron Griffin), Monticello (Luke Hanselman), St. Thomas More (Dennis Freeman) and Urbana (David Anderson).
Grammer was the area’s top scorer as a junior (34). Hinds is the third of three brothers to play for the Chargers, joining Jonathan and Joshua. Freeman was the school’s first all-stater after scoring 27 goals in his first year with the team. The Sabers’ single-season record for goals is 33.
Cornjerkers strengthen schedule. Four of Hoopeston Area’s first five matches are against 2A opponents. The team started with Centennial and followed up with Danville and two large-school foes in the Mahomet-Seymour Invitational. Six starters return for the Cornjerkers, who last year lost in the sectional finals to a school (Herscher) that went on to place second at state in Class 1A.
“Our experience from our postseason run last year will benefit the team as they know what it takes and how hard they have to work both individually and collectively to try and have another successful season,” Cornjerkers coach John Klaber said.
Among the team’s newcomers is senior goalkeeper Bryce Leigh, a cross-country runner the past three seasons.
Young and talented. Bismarck-Henning’s second-year program returns all 11 starters. Most of them will be around for a while. Seven of the returnees are sophomores. Until last year, B-H was part of a soccer co-op with Hoopeston Area.
“We have good team speed and, with a year under our belts, the kids are more familiar with each other,” coach Ryan Reifsteck said.
One Blue Devil, junior Dalton Duncan, also is kicking for the football team.
Defensive nucleus intact. Champaign Central retains seven starters among its 11 returning letter winners, and two of them were prominent players on last year’s 15-win team that yielded 17 goals. Goalkeeper Ryan Chalifoux is back, as is defender Riley Kemper.
“We’re strong in the spine of the team,” coach Steve Whiteley said.
Sabers get in shape. St. Thomas More coach James Johnson regards this year’s team as “the fittest team I’ve ever coached.” Twenty squad members broke the six-minute barrier for the Sabers’ preseason mile run. It’s one reason why the coach feels good about this year’s team.
“This team perfectly embodies the two things I preach most: work ethic and team defense,” Johnson said. “Additionally, our depth is better than ever before, allowing for more subs than previous years.”
Four freshmen and two seniors are in the starting lineup.
Carrying on the tradition. Monticello’s lineup features four players who had older brothers who made a name for themselves in the Sages’ program.
Jacob Hanselman ranks second all time in goals scored at the school (52). Younger brother Luke Hanselman passed his older brother for the career assists record (38, entering the season).
Tyler Mumm holds the Monticello mark for lowest goals-against average in a season (1.00). This year, defender Nathan Mumm is seeking his fourth varsity letter in soccer.
Drew Schumacher ranks fifth in career goals scored (30), and Josh Schumacher is second in goals-against average for a season (1.38). A third brother, Abe Schumacher, is one of the team’s midfielders this fall.
Matt Menacher ranks seventh in career assists at Monticello (15). Ben Menacher is a senior defender this year for the Sages.
Notebook items. Former Mahomet-Seymour coach John Moore is on staff at Centennial as an assistant. ... Former St. Joseph-Ogden cross-country coach Kristin Allen is helping coach soccer at the school. ... Centennial has a roster with 16 seniors. One of them is first-time player Anthony Martin, a baseball standout. ... Danville coach Chris Griffin hopes his team’s quickness is an asset. “We will be looking to press our opponents and take advantage of our overall speed,” Griffin said. ... If Iroquois West goalkeeper Lisandro Garcia breaks the school record for saves in a season (170), the former record-holder will be on hand for the occasion. The mark belongs to Hector Reyes, an assistant coach. ... Max Berry set the Judah Christian scoring mark (14) for freshmen last season. ... St. Thomas More gains the services of junior defender Aaron Pak, a junior who sat out last year after transferring from Judah Christian. ... Unity senior Trevor Giannetti, who is kicking for the football team, decided not to play soccer.