Eagles To Grow Up In A Hurry
Blue Eagle Boys’ Soccer Coach Matt Quinet, in his fifth season as mentor, has to live this year without the likes of Andrew Robinson, Devin Sizemore, Chad Stillwagner, Spencer Pritchard, and Jon Rine. These seniors were all three-year letterman except Pritchard, who was a four-year starter.
Although the team boasts several veteran performers, many of the key players are young in terms of age and grade level.
“This may sound funny.” said Quinet, “Overall we are experienced. But, we are still a young team.”
Columbian transfer student Juan “A-1” Ramos is the team’s only senior. One of the younger players is back this season, letterman Mike “Dink” Jones, who played extremely well in his first full season at wing and midfield. But, he has volunteered to be the Eagle keeper this season. He is a very versatile player that can play many different positions and will be used to keep Magnolia in matches.
Junior captain Jason Long was a defensive specialist for the last two seasons but will be moved to sweeper this year where the team will capitalize on his speed and ability to play the ball down the field, giving his strikers breakaways.
Another junior, Isaac Howell, returns at striker and is expected to give the Big Blue valuable experience and leadership to the many younger players. Trevor Long will be Howell’s sidekick in his first year at striker. He has quick feet and is a hard-nosed player that will get his share of shots. He also has the knack to follow shots and bury any garbage that comes his way.
Even though he was used as a defender last season, Daniel “John Paul” Mateer will have to use his soccer smarts at the stopper position and be the glue to keep the defense together.
With Long and Mateer moved to new positions, Mitchell Godwin and Andrew Stackpole get the nod for the fullback position. Both had impressive pre-seasons, but will have big, big shoes to fill.
Ethan Arman, Chase Cain, James Long and Evan Heslop have exceptional soccer knowledge and endurance and will get the start at mid-field. Arman is versatile and can play anywhere on the field. Cain is a novice to soccer but has picked up the game quite nicely. He is an athlete and has sports smarts. Long and Heslop played a little defense last season, both have soccer experience and should do quite well.
“You can have all the skills in the world, but if you have no endurance it isn’t going to make much difference after about the first half,” Quinet observed. “We are focusing hard on our endurance and I think that could make a bit of a difference, especially in the early part of the season.”
First off the bench is Ramos, who will play up front with Howell and Trevor Long. Ramos scored four goals in the Eagles’ 7-1 victory against Shenandoah Aug. 25. He has excellent ball skills and has that knack on finding the back of the net. He played defense in his native Columbia, has excellent skills and has opened a lot of eyes early on.
A key to the Magnolia success is the bench. Quinet will look to Jesse Clark, Kyle Lancaster, Eric Piekarski, Mikal Raber, Dylan King, and Joey Culley to build some consistency when they substitute. Quinet will have his troops ready for action and will be in tip-top shape when it comes to playing and competing during the 40-minute halves. You can look for spirited and enthusiastic play from his team.
The team has a lot of potential and will be very exciting to watch. The players seem to be more unified and motivated on the field and appear ready to make some noise in 2009.
An inexperienced bench will add new blood to the mix and, after getting used to each other, the younger Blue Eagles surely will be flying high and controlling the field with exciting and terrific play.
“Though we lost eight key position players,” Quinet said, “the boys have worked extremely hard and are coming together as a team. I believe as the season unfolds, the new faces and skills will blend with our veteran players.
“It is my chief team goal to win the games we should win and peak in time for the Ohio Valley Conference tournament and sectional play. My second goal is to continue to develop a love for the game through the use of proper fundamentals and sportsmanship that will carry our players into all areas of their lives.”
The Magnolia boys’ and girls’ soccer teams play all their home games at the field on Howard Jeffers Drive, across from Wal-Mart.