Champaign Central rising senior SANTIAGO RODRIGUEZ, a DePaul commit, will try to become a repeat News-Gazette All-Area boys’ soccer Player of the Year this fall. Here are 10 other local stars who might be able to chase him down:
1. JOE SELLETT, St. Thomas More — On a Sabers team loaded with returning veteran experience, the senior Sellett projects to garner the most attention from STM’s opponents. That’ll happen when you produce a team-best 25 goals as a junior to go with nine assists.
2. CALEB ALDRIDGE, Judah Christian — A vocal and by-play leader for the Tribe during a surprising run to a Class 1A sectional final last year, Aldridge can expect to stay in a top role that likely will expand upon his nine goals and team-high 16 assists from 2018.
3. DIEGO CAMARENA, Iroquois West — Though the Raiders didn’t dive as deeply into the Class 1A postseason as they would’ve liked, Camarena’s statistics remained eye-popping. His 67 goals not only outpaced the closest local competitor by more than 30, but also placed him among the national leaders in his sport.
4. DREW REIFSTECK, Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin — The individual who most threatened Camarena in the area scoring department was Reifsteck, who banked a stout 35 tallies in his junior campaign. He wasn’t only a finisher, though, adding 13 assists when foes decided to key in too hard on Reifsteck.
5. RHYS ROOT, Hoopeston Area — The Cornjerkers deployed balance throughout their positions last year, and Root’s statistics offer true proof. He potted 11 goals and produced 14 assists, though doing so as just a junior between forward and midfielder positions means his stock could rise.
6. KADYN JONES, Mahomet-Seymour — Jones’ ability to beat the opposing netminder may not have resulted in the most eye-catching number of goals (nine), but his skills still were evident in both that figure and his team-leading 18 helpers.
7. LUCAS WOOD, Uni High — The Illineks should be glad he has two more years of high school, considering he put up 16 goals as a sophomore.
8. OMAR SANDOVAL, Centennial — The Chargers are losing important names to graduation, so Sandoval’s 10 goals and six assists are likely to trend upward.
9. JP Hoffman, St. Thomas More — He provided a huge boost in the midfield last year, shown through 14 assists.
10. JAKE EDMONDSON, Monticello — He’ll be asked to pick up the slack in Luke Rudolph’s absence, and 13 goals/10 assists slashline suggests he can.