Fresh-faced Cats set for contest
Nothing stirs a De Soto crowd quite like the Mill Valley Jaguars.
Thus, that the intra-district rival is the first squad on the Wildcats docket isn't the worst thing in the world, De Soto coach Jim Bonar said Monday.
De Soto faces off against the Jaguars at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Mill Valley. It's a game that's always important to the De Soto players, and it's a game Bonar's been eagerly awaiting.
"I think it's a great way to start the season," Bonar said. "I like those games. I think it's a lot of fun. Personally, I take everyone about the same, but the kids get more excited and people might stop you and talk to you more about it in the hallway."
As for what to expect, even Bonar isn't sure yet. While he said the wide-open race to fill starting spots has slowed, the Cats starting line up will remain in flux right up to tip off.
Forward Taylor Burnett, one of the few De Soto players returning with significant varsity experience a year ago, has been plagued by injuries through the first weeks of practice. Set back by a broken hand in football, now a strained knee has kept Burnett from several practices.
"We're not even sure the ones we thought we were going to start are going to be able to start," Bonar said. "We're not the healthiest crew right now. Taylor's going to be a game-day situation."
After tweaking his knee once, the senior forward -- who averaged eight points per game last season -- skipped a few practices. He returned, but just as he was coming out during one of his first practices back, he aggravated the injury, leading to a few more days on the sideline.
"It's not so much frustrating for me as it is for him," Bonar said. "He just wants to play. I can tell it's distracting him and it's really bugging him."
With or without Burnett, Friday's opener won't be all about the final score, at least for Bonar. Taking over a program that was 6-14 a year ago, not to mention one that features just three players who scored on varsity, the early-season goals will be reasonable, he said.
An upset on the road at Mill Valley would be one sweet way to kick things off, he said, but far more important at this time is installing the discipline, skills and fundamentals that it is hoped will pay dividends down the road.
"To think about winning now, that's kind of secondary," Bonar said. "We have a lot of guys getting their first varsity experience, so it'll be a hectic pace and a lot of excitement. We could jump out early. We could look like we'd never practiced a day. There's a lot of stuff that could happen.
"Winning's great, but I know we're going to be a lot better by midseason. Everyone will be, but we've got a lot more room to improve. If we hit our stride, we'll be tough to play."