Lest anyone think the Chatfield Chargers get their Class 5A Jefferson County League titles served to them on a silver platter of high numbers and an embarrassment of riches, coach Paul Moline sees a little blue in the team’s burgundy this season.
Call it a blue-collar work rate that very well could define this team, which will be keeping with the tradition of skill and depth at the school.
Top players in the mix this season are senior forward Dylan Hall, junior forward Jake Meyer, and senior midfielders Billy LaGreca and Ryan Rombach.
“I think individually, we have great talent all over the field,” Moline said. “We got to find out a way to get it all together.”
Ah, yes, how to paint over the cracks that often appear between players that spend much of the year competing against each other with local soccer clubs Rush, Real and the Academy programs? It’s a challenge for many schools, but one that seems to have a bigger impact – and repercussions – at Chatfield than other top programs such as Smoky Hill, Grandview, Heritage and Arapahoe.
“We got to stop that division,” Moline said, “and get the kids to leave all of that behind.”
The potential, as always, is there. Moline sees as much talent at practice now as he has ever seen at the school.
The only position that isn’t as deep as in the past is at goalkeeper, a place where the Chargers have been exceptionally deep over the most recent seasons. Moline said two young players are vying for the starting nod.
While the Chargers remain the team to beat in Jeffco, Moline is wary of a very hard working Lakewood squad. Pomona has been on the verge of breaking through for several seasons, Moline said, and Bear Creek could be a surprise as well. Traditional rivals Columbine and Dakota Ridge will always present problems.
Eagles’ seniors hoping to avoid any more ‘senior moments’
The weather forecast for Dakota Ridge is a very seasoned core with the likelihood of rain in the form of goals.
“We didn’t have a problem scoring last year, and our defense was pretty solid,” Eagles coach Jason Casanova said.
Fair enough. The Eagles bring back eight seniors, five of which have played varsity for the better part of the past three seasons. That means there should be no excuses this season, Casanova said, as the core is veteran, tried and tested.
At the core of the Eagles planned attack are seniors Cory Loupee, Steve Maury and Mike Delisi, who are all midfielders. Expected to join the attack is defender J.P. Jui.
“Maturity will be key,” Casanova said. “If they can all mature and stay the course, it will be great.”
The best gauge of how well the Eagles have matured will be their game management. In Casanova’s mind, the Eagles were a great team for 65 to 75 minutes of every game. The only problem, of course, is that the games go 80 minutes of regulation.
Those lapses allowed one – sometimes two – goals and cost the Eagles valuable momentum, confidence and playoff positioning as they struggled for results.
Admittedly, the Eagles don’t have a go-to scorer up top, but Casanova sees that role being filled by a variety of players. Jordan Quintana will boost the offense, as will set piece specialist Skylar Roy, a defender, and wing player Andrew Mitchell.
“We should be in every game this year,” Casanova said.
Echoing the general consensus, Casanova said rival Chatfield is clearly the team to beat, based upon the Chargers’ history and the number of players in their program. Lakewood will be an improved test, Casanova believes, but so will the Eagles if they can put all their senior experience to good use.
Todd era begins at Columbine
Tradition is getting a new paint job and a rebuilt engine. And Brian Todd can’t wait to drive it.
Todd, who played at Columbine for iconic coach Peter Horvath, takes the reigns at Rebel land after years of being Horvath’s trusted assistant during many ofHorvath’s 26 years in charge.
“It seems like there is new life in our program, just that someone a lot younger and new is here,” Todd said.
New life was also a matter of sheer timing. The Rebels graduated 10 players from last year and are reloading from a talent pool that has dropped in terms of overall numbers.
The new faces are well dispersed through the different ages, although the presence of four freshmen on varsity is a bit of a novelty and a reason to get excited.
“There were some good spots to steal and some freshmen kind of stole my mind,” Todd said.
The senior trio at the core for Columbine this season is two midfielders and a goalkeeper. Aaron Lieberman and Peter Lomba will give the Rebels a steadying force and attacking identity in the middle of the park, while Brice Heller is poised to emerge as one of the top goalkeepers in the Class 5A Jefferson County League.
Todd believes the program will become whatever the leadership models. With that in mind, Todd is hoping to stress an attention to fitness, respect and focus this season, and for years to come.
An adherent to the 4-4-2 formation, Todd will look to fit his players into that system while stressing possession, patience on the ball and good shape, especially on defense. Developing a squad that can break teams down with a smart passing game – especially in the attacking third – would be the ideal.
Chief rival Chatfield remains the team to beat, Todd said, although he believes the overall depth in Jeffco is down a bit from last season. With Ralston Valley up and Wheat Ridge down to 4A, Jeffco has 10 teams this season, which will compete for five postseason berths.