After a disappointing finish to the 2012 boys soccer season, Sisters is ready to make a state championship run in 2013.
The Outlaws fell to Ontario 2-1 in overtime in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs last year after star midfielder Jake McAllister received two yellow cards and Sisters was forced to play most of the second half without him.
McAllister, now a senior, and Evan Rickards, a senior forward, are back to lead the Outlaws this season.
“I think we were just as good as a lot of the teams that went farther,” says Sisters coach Rob Jensen. “We had some good possibility there, but that's how the ball bounces sometimes.”
But Jensen says this year's side is shooting for a state championship appearance. The return of McAllister and Rickards, who combined for 28 goals last season, make that a realistic goal. McAllister was a first team all-state player last season and the Sky-Em League player of the year, while Rickards made the all-state second team.
“The attitude of our players, and the work ethic, all of that type of stuff is right there,” Jensen says. “And I think (a state championship) is one of our goals. You've got to win league and get some luck in the playoffs, but I think we're definitely going to make a run at that. We want to be playing on the last day.”
Jensen calls 2013 a “reloading year” and says his team has the potential to be better than last season. He says the Outlaws — who were 10-0 in the Sky-Em League last season — are again the favorites to win their league, though they could face stiff competition from Cottage Grove and Junction City.
Other players who will have big roles this season, according to Jensen, include junior Justin Harrer, who will see time at both sweeper and striker, and sophomore midfielders Jadon Bachtold and Colton Manhalter.
“They're crafty, so they'll distribute well for us in the middle there,” Jensen says of Bachtold and Manhalter.
Senior Jardon Weems will lead the Outlaw defense, Jensen says.
Elsewhere in Central Oregon boys soccer, the Intermountain Conference race will likely once again come down to Summit and Mountain View. The Storm won the league last season, but the Cougars defeated their crosstown rival 1-0 in a state semifinal before falling to Woodburn 2-1 in the Class 5A state championship game.
Mountain View coach Chris Rogers says this will be a rebuilding year for his team, which lost seven seniors from the 2012 squad.
Still, Rogers likes the Cougars' chances of being competitive behind a core of three returning players: sophomore midfielder Taylor Willman, sophomore forward Zach Emerson, and junior midfielder Zel Rey.
“Those three coming back give us a very dynamic, attacking advantage,” Rogers says. “In any game we're in we should be able to score goals. We lost a lot of senior leadership, but we still have some players who can definitely still ball. We just have to build around what we know works, and find the pieces to fill some holes, like we did last year.”
Summit's situation is similar to Mountain View's. The Storm graduated nine seniors from last year's team, seven of whom were starters. Summit hopes to reload behind the play of senior defender Cameron Weaver, junior defender Eli Warmenhoven, and midfielders Alex Arnis, a senior, and Alex Bowlin, a junior.
Storm coach Ron Kidder says he thinks the defending IMC champions can have another strong year after the Cougars “got the last laugh” last season by beating them in the semifinals. That marked the second straight year Summit was eliminated in the state semifinals.
“I think we're knocking on the door (of a state championship),” Kidder says. “It's just getting over the hump. Some of these kids have been in both of those (semifinal) games. I think as a program we've tasted success, and I think they want more. They're still hungry, for sure.”
Prep boys soccer at a glance
A look at the Central Oregon teams for the upcoming season:
Head coach: Nils Eriksson (18th season)
2012 record: 5-8-1 overall, 2-4 IMC (third); lost in Class 5A play-in game
Outlook: The Lava Bears hope to improve this season behind a core of juniors and sophomores. Top returners include senior goalkeeper Tony Watters and juniors Scott Bracci, Sam Nelson and Zach Hite. “I think we'll be a little more competitive than last year,” Eriksson says. “We had a lot of one-goal losses last year.”
Head coach: Chris Rogers (fourth season)
2012 record: 11-5-2 overall, 4-1-1 IMC (second); lost in Class 5A state championship
Outlook: The Cougars face a rebuilding year but will still look to challenge Summit for the top spot in the Intermountain Conference. Midfielders Taylor Willman and Zel Rey and forward Zach Emerson will lead the way.
Head coach: Ron Kidder (ninth season)
2012 record: 12-2-3 overall, 5-0-1 IMC (first); lost in Class 5A semifinals
Outlook: After reaching the state semifinals the past two seasons, the Storm are hoping to take the next step. Summit lost nine seniors but should find leadership from seniors Alex Arnis and Cameron Weaver as well as juniors Eli Warmenhoven and Alex Bowlin.
Head coach: Ansel Evans (second season)
2012 record: 3-11 overall, 0-6 IMC (sixth)
Outlook: A strong returning sophomore class will lead the Panthers as they look to improve from last season. Senior midfielder Daniel Lopez was all-IMC honorable mention last season. “Our program continues trying to rebuild after the opening of the new high school in Redmond,” Evans says, referencing Ridgeview. “We are welcoming players new to soccer to try and fill a JV team, as this will help us in our future.”
Head coach: Ron Jensen (seventh season)
2012 record: 12-3 overall, 8-0 Sky-Em (first); lost in first round of Class 4A state playoffs
Outlook: The Outlaws return two all-state players in midfielder Jake McAllister and forward Evan Rickards. After a disappointing finish to the 2012 season, Sisters has its eyes on a state
championship run in 2013.
Head coach: Keith Bleyer (second season)
2012 record: 5-7-1 overall, 2-0 Special District 1 (first); lost in Class 4A play-in game
Outlook: Offseason work should help the Ravens improve this season. Without a senior class last year, Ridgeview has eight seniors on its roster now. Senior leaders include Raul Segoviano, Nate Kandle and Chase Bennett. “I think we can do more than just make the playoffs,” Bleyer says. “We want to upset a team or two, and we've got the boys to do it.”
Head coach: Joel Carillo (fourth season, second tenure)
2012 record: 2-9 overall, 0-2 Special District 1 (second)
Outlook: Zane Abrams is the only senior on the Cowboys' roster. Abrams will look to lead a very young Crook County team. “They're looking better than last year,” Carillo says. “They're young, but they have a lot of skills.”
Head coach: Clark Jones (fifth season)
2012 record: 3-11 overall, 3-7 TVC (fourth)
Outlook: Junior midfielders Mario Urieta and Oved Felix will lead the White Buffaloes as they look to improve from last season. “We're slowly getting our numbers up to where they need to be and the intensity is getting better,” Jones says. “Several players have grown up over the year and are stepping up.”
Head coach: Sam Ramirez (second season)
2012 record: 3-4-1 overall (played a JV schedule)
Outlook: Seniors Zach Smith and Sam Wieber accounted for about 90 percent of the Hawks' goals last season, according to Ramirez. They will lead La Pine as it fields it first varsity team. “It's still a young team, but we have a couple seniors,” Ramirez says. “They're mostly freshman and sophomores. The kids are ready for improvement.”
Head coach: Tom Kirk (ninth season)
2012 record: 3-8-3 overall, 1-6-1 Special District 4 (fourth)
Outlook: The team is still learning to play together behind the leadership of two returning seniors: defender Arturo Vasquez and midfielder Isaias Gutierrez. “We have to figure out how to trust each other and how to play together,” Kirk says. “We need to get good team play, move the ball quickly, and share the ball.”
Head coach: Drew Roberts (first season)
2012 record: 1-7-2 overall, 0-7-1 Special District 4 (fifth)
Outlook: Returning seniors Garrett Simpson and Caleb Stewart will lead the Tigers as they play an independent schedule. “We're trying to get a few extra players,” Roberts says. “With our new independent schedule, we can play some local JV teams.”