The West Jefferson boys soccer team played well in stretches last year in battling to a record right around the .500 mark.
The Roughriders (7-9-1) a year ago were led by a big group of seniors, this fall they look a lot more like other school’s reserve teams. The number of players on the roster has dipped just slightly from 15 to 13, but it’s the number of inexperienced players that make up the majority of this year’s roster which has the team looking so thin.
“We’re young and inexperienced,” coach Dick Tompkins said. “We only have 13 kids. It’s two seniors, no juniors, three sophomores and eight freshmen.”
That doesn’t necessarily sound like a winning combination, especially when you consider the Mid-State League Ohio Division features state powerhouse programs in Columbus Academy, Worthington Christian and Bexley.
But despite his team’s youth, Tompkins said his kids are doing a good job of listening and doing what they’re asked.
“They’re young but they’re coachable,” he said. “I’m excited about this group of guys because they do work so hard.”
The coach may have to play the role of cheerleader as the season goes along. He knows that throwing a team loaded with freshmen out against the competition the Roughriders are going to see could lead to hard at times.
We’ve got to be realistic,” Tompkins said. “We’re in a very tough league and things aren’t going to be easy. But in order to get better you’ve got to play better competition. Keeping them up will be a challenge. It’s a long season.”
Offensively the team will be led by senior co-captain Cody Dingess, on the defensive end of the field the only other senior on the roster is the other captain Yakov Shatalov who will lead the way on the defensive end of the field.
“Those guys know what its like to play at this level,” the coach said. “One will lead the offense and one will lead the defense. They’ve been here for four years, they know what it’s like to go up against a Bexley or Columbus Academy. They’re going to have to be good role models for us.”
The coach hopes his players will embrace the the fact that they’re playing for West Jefferson and will play with pride every time they step out onto the field.
“If you look across the board at the other sports West Jeff plays hard and and they play with pride,” the coach said. “We’ll remind them that, they want to be successful like the other teams here.”
Chris Miles can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.