Youth movement taking shape with Wildcats
With no returning starters, DeSoto High soccer coach Mike Murphy might have reason to panic.
Murphy, however, isn't one to panic.
In fact, his response is just the opposite. The core of last year's junior varsity team will step up this season. This is the same team that finished 12-1 a year ago.
"The kids moving up to varsity are used to playing together," Murphy said. "Sometimes that's more important."
Last season DeSoto finished 11-5-1 and was second in Kaw Valley League.
"We're looking a little inexperienced right now," said senior Adam Karashin. "But we have some strong players and a lot of really good freshmen coming up."
Murphy has coached the Wildcats for three years. He lost some skill players but has consistency on his side.
Senior Danny Blades backed up Dugan Brown, last year's starting goalkeeper who went on to Mill Valley High.
"He's (Blades) got good footing and is big and strong," Murphy said. "With the right attitude and some coaching, I think he can really come on this year."
Senior Nic Kline will anchor the defensive line at the sweeper position. Tracy Peters will be DeSoto's top goal-scoring threat.
"He's left-footed and I'm hoping he can produce some goals for us," Murphy said.
And then there is Karashin, who Murphy claims has a great shot.
Murphy sees promise in juniors Willie Meier, Todd Manson and Paul Seaman. A handful of underclassmen will also get plenty of opportunities to step on the field.
"Despite some of the inexperience, I think we'll be ready for the first game," Karashin said.
Even though scoring has always been a problem for the DeSoto team, Murphy hopes to counter-balance that again this year with the team's strong defensive ability and a good midfield.
"The only thing is: can we score?" Murphy said.
The Wildcats' first games will be Tuesday at Lawrence-Free State. The JV team will play at 4:30 p.m. and varsity at 6 p.m.
"It will be a big challenge," Murphy said. "I'm glad we have it at the beginning of the year. Playing tough teams at the beginning will make them better."