David Crockett and Daniel Boone are both off to solid starts to the high school soccer season, but Big Eight Conference play usually presents a tough assignment.
Meanwhile, University High and Elizabethton are once again in the mix for the Three Rivers/Blue Ridge Conference title.
Here’s an update on each of these local teams:
First-year head coach Dean Hogan has his team off to a 4-3 start, but the Pioneers are 0-2 in league play.
“We’re getting good effort from the players,” said Hogan, whose team took on Daniel Boone on Tuesday night in Gray. “We’ve been doing things a little different, and we’re trying to get everybody used to what we want to do. We’re making big strides.”
Leading the way in scoring for the Pioneers are seniors Carlos Martinez and Cyrus Nichols. Each player has recorded a hat trick this season.
Nichols anchors a midfield unit that has four sophomores, including Chris Kudera. Other midfielders are Hunter Gent, Hayden Thompson and Nick Butler.
Martinez is the leader up front, and he’s flanked by junior Aaron Hensley.
On the defensive side of the ball, senior Hunter Tipton is in goal. He’s protected by senior defenders Derek Stiltner and Jordan Miller along with sophomore Nathan Kincheloe.
To get where they want to be, the Pioneers will have to possess more consistently, said Hogan.
“We just need to move the ball in the middle of the field better,” said Hogan.
Also in the playing-time mix are sophomore forward Conner Britt, freshman midfielder Payton Toth and senior defender Ethan Palmer.
Head coach Steve Sessis said the Trailblazers still have their sights set on success.
“We’ve had an up-and-down start,” said Sessis. “We hit a little rough patch, but I think we’re about ready to smooth out.”
Leading the way for Boone is sophomore defender Jacob Wrigley.
“He does a good job of controlling the defense, keeping the score down and giving us a fighting chance,” said Sessis. “He has done an outstanding job.”
Other key players include junior midfielder Ryan Elswick and senior forward Chris Dickerson.
“(Elswick) is an excellent feeder, getting the ball to Dickerson,” said Sessis. “When Elswick is in control, we do well. Otherwise we struggle.”
Junior midfielder Adam Edwards is another key for Boone while senior Joe Mitchell and sophomore Curtis Mason have shared time at the goalkeeper position.
“We’ve got to get a stronger performance out of the midfield,” said Sessis. “Everything hinges on the midfield. When things have gone well there, we’ve won the game.”
Head coach Victor Chirica doesn’t shrink away from playing a tough schedule, so the Junior Bucs’ 4-2-1 record reflects a legitimately good start.
“We’ve got pretty strong play in the midfield, and everything starts from there,” said Chirica. “And our two attackers have very good technique. That’s how we manage to score.
“Defensively we are OK, but we could improve a whole lot more.”
Leading the attack up front are forwards Skylar Lane (Jr.) and Dominic Avento (So.). Helping those guys get in position for striking are midfielders Connor Williams (Jr.), Lowell Williams (Fr.), Ongtengo Wesley (So.) and Nick Fabus (Jr.).
“Midfield and attacking, those are our stronger points,” said Chirica.
Keeping the opponents’ offense in check are defenders Pete Borel, a senior, and Kevin Mast, a junior. Also helping out in the back are sophomore defenders Jonathan Burke (So.) and Alex Destefano (So.), and goalkeeper Benjamin Page, a junior.
Chirica said the Junior Bucs as a team need to get in better shape.
“We need to improve our fitness,” he said. “That’s where we are kind of lacking. The team is pretty skilled and moves the ball around well, but we need to do it for 80 minutes.”
It starts up top for the Cyclones with striker Raphael Teixeira.
The senior has already totaled nine goals this season as the Cyclones are off to a 3-3 start, 2-1 in league play.
“He has good ball skills,” said Cyclones head coach Bill McClay. “And his speed has increased quite a bit this year.
“If he gets good opportunities, he generally finishes it off. As a team we’ve got to try to create chances for him.”
Complementing Teixeira up front are sophomore Austin Vanhoy and senior Joey Stahl.
In the middle, the Cyclones are rotating about seven players, including senior Devin Clark. Also in the mix are juniors Coby Atwell, Nathan LaPorte and Tasa Mushayamunda.
Sophomores in the midfield mix are Darion Simerly and Stephen Gough. Isaac Fife is a freshman midfielder.
As for the defense, McClay said he is relying on guys like Will Arnold (Sr.), Kurt Dauksch (Jr.), Bobby Holt (Jr.) and Ashton Stevens (Jr.). Taking care of the goalkeeper duties is junior Luke Broyles.
“Defensively we’re still pretty good,” said McClay. “We brought back the defending block from last year.”
Both Elizabethton and UH will have to deal with Greeneville in league play.
“I think we all figure things go through Greeneville,” said McClay, whose team lost to the Greene Devils 3-1 earlier this season. “We just need to be consistent. When we create chances, we need to make the most of them.”