Chieftain soccer team may be best in years
This year's Tonganoxie High School soccer team could be the best group of players the school has fielded in the last four years, coach Harold Pittman said.
But for now they're out of shape.
Coach Pittman got a good look at his team when it played two tournament games in July.
He said that the team put in a strong performance during the first game but that "by the second game we saw how out-of-shape we were."
First on Pittman's agenda when two-a-day practices begin Aug. 14 was: Running a lot of it.
But Pittman said he has no doubts of his ability to get his team in shape.
The second of Pittman's goals for his players falls under the broad topic of "team."
"Secondly, we're going to be working on team effort playing as a team, being teammates on and off the field, forming team unity," he said.
To get his players to think like a team, the first skills task will be to memorize formations so that every player knows where her or his teammates are supposed to be at any given time during a game.
Pittman's focus on teamwork makes sense.
He said that last year's 6-10-1 record wasn't an indication of the individual skills of the players, but that the team fell short in its team execution.
"Last year we had some talent but just couldn't pull it all together," he said.
But besides an emphasis on teamwork, the Tonganoxie program's chances at success are increased by few graduates from last year and some talented newcomers.
"We have a good freshman class," Pittman said. "These guys play pretty strong."
And because Tonganoxie doesn't have a freshman team, the impact of high-quality freshmen will be felt. Three or four of them could even see time on varsity, he said.
Another thing helping the team is that it only lost three seniors from last year. Two of them weren't starters.
"This is the strongest team of my four years," Pittman said. "I look forward to going a pretty good distance."
Some players Pittman said he expects to help lead the team to a successful season are seniors Kyle Rodell and Ryan Lowe and junior Dustin Shultz.
Another good thing for the team is that it will get a new field to play on, located just to the east of the football field.
The grass is still in the stubble phase, though.
"The new field is great and I look forward to playing on it," Pittman said. "I hope the grass grows pretty fast, though."