Skyview and Middleton battled it out for the district and state titles last season, with Skyview emerging victorious in both. Skyview returns with a stacked lineup, while Middleton tries to replace a potent senior class, possibly opening the door for a new contender in the 4A SIC.
BISHOP KELLY KNIGHTS
Coach: Jared Vreeland, first season
Last year: 13-4-3, 8-1-1 4A SIC
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Returning all-conference: Alex Koehl, jr., GK (second team); Matthew Sammartino, jr., M (second team); Seth Riffe, jr., F (honorable mention); Brennan Gazdik sr., M (honorable mention); Conner Chappel, sr., M (honorable mention); Brian Lincks, jr., M (honorable mention); Kasey Dunn, sr., D (honorable mention).
Breakdown: With eight returning starters, Vreeland is confident the Knights can make another postseason push. “After making a great run at state and league last year, I believe our roster is even deeper than it was,” he said. Gazdik (three goals, seven assists in ‘14) and Chappell (two goals, three assists) lead a fast and technical midfield, and Riffe returns after netting 12 goals.
Coach: Rhys Yeakley, third season
Last year: 12-6-2, 6-3-1 4A SIC
Returning all-conference: Emilio Gonzales, jr., M (second team); Rolondo Guillen, sr., M (honorable mention); Alex Grimaldo, sr., GK (honorable mention).
Breakdown: Expect a change in style as Caldwell graduated three players with 60 goals to their names and Yeakley focuses on a defense led by center backs Danny Cuevas and Luis Munoz. Yeakley also said to watch out for Gonzales, who has started every game since his freshman year as a defender behind two conference players of the year, but now moves into an attacking role.
Coach: Steven Brent, third season
Last year: 3-15-0, 1-9-0 4A SIC
Returning all-conference: Lucas Thorne, so., F (second team).
Breakdown: The Kavemen stumbled to a 3-15-0 season for the second straight year, and they lost seven starters from that squad. Brent said Kuna remains young, but with plenty of speed. Both of those traits are evident in Thorne, who racked up 20 goals and six assists last season as a freshman.
Coach: Pete Rossi, third season
Last year: 12-9-1, 3-6-1 4A SIC
Returning all-conference: David Kofoed, jr., F (second team); Hunter Reese, sr., D (honorable mention)
Breakdown: The defending state runner-up will have to learn on the fly as it replaces 12 seniors and 10 starters lost to graduation, and the young team only features four seniors this season. That is especially true on defense, where only one player with varsity experience is back. The attack should remain strong behind Kofoed (12 goals, nine assists in ‘14) and a strong midfield. “(Kofoed) is a great distributor of the ball and a goal scorer,” Rossi said.
MTN. HOME TIGERS
Coach: Daniel Durham, first season
Last year: 4-14-1, 2-8-0 4A SIC
Returning all-conference: Victor Sanchez, sr., M (second team); Abrahan Salas, sr., D (second team).
Breakdown: Durham enters a program with 10 returning starters. He said his first goal is to break the individualistic tendencies of the team and convince them to share the ball going forward. Durham likes his team’s ability to control the midfield, an effort led by Sanchez. “Victor is an amazing ball handler who has great ability at working with his teammates to control the midfield,” Durham said.
Coach: Shawn Pelton, fifth season
Last year: 13-2-6, 7-0-3 4A SIC
Returning all-conference: Kamden Hundersmarck, sr., GK (first team); Christian Mondragon, jr., F (first team); Victor Bustamante, sr., D (first team); Johnny Rojas, so., M (second team).
Breakdown: The defending state and district champs fell one point shy of a regular-season conference title and a third championship last season. And with eight returning starters back, they are poised for another big year. The addition of Cesar Sosa, a first-team all-conference central midfielder in 2013 who missed most of last year with injury, further strengthens the squad. But Pelton warns Skyview has grown too relaxed early in games this year.