(KMAland) -- The random number generator wanted to head to the soccer pitch today, so that’s what we’re going to do.
In today’s spring sports preview, let’s get a look at the boys Hawkeye Ten Conference.
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HAWKEYE TEN CONFERENCE BOYS SOCCER PREVIEW
The last we saw of the Hawkeye Ten Conference, it was raising a very big trophy. The Lewis Central boys won their first state championship, and they were primed to make a run at another.
However, the most interesting aspect of it all is that the Titans shared the Hawkeye Ten with two other teams – Denison-Schleswig and Harlan. If that doesn’t speak to the strength of the 2019 season then I don’t know what does. How does 2021 look? Let’s go…
Atlantic Trojans – 2019 Record: 4-12 overall, 1-6 conference
Coach: Matt Smith
RETURNEES: All-Hawkeye Ten honorable mention pick Beau Dickerson is back for his senior season. Dickerson had a team-high six goals and passed out four assists to finish with a team-best 16 points. Devin McKay is another senior that started most every game during his sophomore year while Kegen Garcia, Keaton Juhl, Devin Wood and Devlwne Sunderman are other potential senior contributors. And look for juniors Jayden Ford, Lee Houser and Tristan Mathisen to potentially find their way into the lineup after seeing some time as freshmen.
HOT TAKE: You have to like the fact that they return their leader in goals and total points, and that’s a great starting point. They will have to find a goalkeeper and replace a pretty large portion of their lineup from 2019, but I think we’ll find that will be par for the course.
Creston Panthers – 2019 Record: 8-9 overall, 2-5 conference
Coach: Chad Malmanger
RETURNEES: Senior Brodie Wallace is one of just three athletes from the first or second team All-Hawkeye Ten that is back this year. Wallace had a big sophomore year with eight goals and six assists and could be among the top-returning athletes in the conference with those 22 total points. There’s a chance one of his running mates – Brance Baker – could be back, too, although I’m not completely clear on where he stands after an injury during basketball season.
With or without Baker, Clayton Stafford brings back 10 assists and seven goals from his sophomore season while Buena Vista recruit Britain Miller should also be a big contributor. Look for the junior class to be represented well with Derek Paup taking over at keeper, and Briley Hayes, Isaac Herrera, Tristan Barncastle, Tyson Smith and Skyler Wilson potentially adding contributions from that class along with seniors Tyson Stuart and Foster McCutchan.
HOT TAKE: Creston should have their sights set pretty high. They bring back Wallace and Stafford – two of the top players in points from two years ago – and have a nice base of talent surrounding them in the junior class. If everyone is there and healthy, this is a sleeper to make a run at the conference.
Denison-Schleswig Monarchs – 2019 Record: 11-5 overall, 6-1 conference
Coach: Carlos Trevino
RETURNEES: The Monarchs had seven receive some form of All-Hawkeye Ten honor two years ago, but they are all gone. And there are only four athletes that played in 2019 that could potentially be on this year’s roster. Senior Juan Chino (2 goals, 1 assist) and junior Rene Bernal (3 assists, 2 goals) are the two big names that standout. Meanwhile, seniors Jeffery Menendez and Carlos Garcia also played contributory roles during their sophomore campaigns.
HOT TAKE: Denison-Schleswig might only have four potential returnees from the tri-champion in 2019, but I know better than to count out Carlos Trevino’s XI. There will be a stream of talent in that program that should – again – compete for the Hawkeye Ten championship and a potential state qualification.
Glenwood Rams – 2019 Record: 7-11 overall, 4-3 conference
Coach: Cort Lovato
RETURNEES: Glenwood is another that had a steady group of athletes on All-Hawkeye Ten teams (6 total) two years ago and returns none of them. However, this junior class got plenty of tick during their debut seasons. Jade Nanfito (2 goals, 2 assists) and Collin Lincoln (1 assist) were regular starters while Jayme Fritts (1 assist), Tom Nieman (1 assist) and Carter Kirsch all made contributions of their own. And don’t forget about East Mills senior Jackson Wray, who put together a strong sophomore season for the Rams with a trio of assists.
HOT TAKE: You would have really loved to see this junior class play with last year’s seniors to see what kind of success they could have had together. Now, though, it’s likely this group will be counted on heavily even with just one year of varsity experience. And I think they have enough talent to put together another fine season.
Harlan Cyclones – 2019 Record: 14-8 overall, 6-1 conference
Coach: Dave Voge
RETURNEES: The big one was highlighted last week in our Spring Sports Names to Know series, Konner Leinen. Leinen was one of the three that earned a first or second-team nod by the conference and is back. And he’s the only goalkeeper in that mix, leading me to the assumption that he is the conference’s top ‘keeper heading into the season. Jacob Schechinger is another senior that received lots of time while Luis Mendoza scored a couple goals as a sophomore. Senior Jesse Schwery and juniors Ashton Lyon (1 goal, 1 assist) and Luke Freund are three others that also made contributions in 2019.
HOT TAKE: Harlan has had a share of the Hawkeye Ten Conference championship in two of the past three seasons, and they’ve been edging ever so close to the state tournament. They would have been among the top teams in the state last year with the 2020 senior class. The 2021 group isn’t nearly as experienced, but they’ll have to learn quick – and I’ve reached the point where I think Coach Voge is going to put a winning, conference-contending team on the pitch each season.
Kuemper Catholic Knights – 2019 Record: 7-11 overall, 3-4 conference
Coach: Ken Massey
RETURNEES: This is a pretty good group seniors, led by 2019 honorable mention Max Burnett, who posted 10 goals and had one assist in his sophomore season. Simon Wagner (3 goals, 3 assists) is well known for his big leg in football and also made a strong contribution as a sophomore. Fellow senior John Mayhall is a returning ‘keeper that had two assists and a goal in 2019 while Blake Boell was a regular starter. Junior Isaac Evans (1 goal, 1 assist) and senior Riley Healy were others that played roles in 2019 and could be looked to for even bigger contributions this year.
HOT TAKE: The Knights had a host of others sophomores and a few freshmen listed on their varsity roster two years ago, and you really could see this team stacked up with a heavy senior lineup. To have that kind of veteran leadership to go with the experience many of the others listed above also have is invaluable. Heck, I’ll throw the Knights into the Hawkeye Ten mix, too.
Lewis Central Titans – 2019 Record: 20-3 overall, 6-1 conference
Coach: James Driver
RETURNEES: This program was absolutely stacked with 2020 seniors, and they would have been favorites to go back-to-back. Those guys are gone, but they do have a hugely talented junior class that contributed to the champs as freshmen. Gaige Tripp (6 goals) was an honorable mention pick, and he could have just as easily been joined by Will Devine (9 assists, 3 goals) and Easton Adams (a regular starter). Michael Kern (3 assists) also had a strong role in 2019 as a frosh. Senior goalkeeper Kyle Gappa seems to be the heir apparent to Cole Jensen while Evan Edwards, Taber Dominguez and Jamison Lobaugh and juniors Cody Merrill and Santos Tellez-Hernandez are others that were listed on the varsity roster in 2019 that could be contributors this year.
HOT TAKE: If everything intact – not always the case after two years in high school sports – the Titans will still be aiming for the pinnacle. They did lose a lot of great players in those junior and senior classes from the 2019 champs, but once you reach that point you want nothing more than to just do it again. My guess is the talent is there to make another run.
St. Albert Falcons – 2019 Record: 2-16 overall, 0-7 conference
Coach: Todd Tarbox
RETURNEES: This is the only team in the conference that has TWO returning all-conference types in junior Jonah Churchill (2nd team) and senior Sam Wilber (honorable mention). I’m here to tell you that they’re not alone. In fact, the Falcons had zero seniors in 2019 and only four juniors. Churchill was the leading scorer with eight goals and two assists while Wilber finished the year with three assists and two goals.
Other major contributors from 2019 in the senior class include Vince Arculeo (2 goals), Connor Cerny, Jake Denny, goalkeeper Owen Doner, Luke Hubbard (2 assists), Eric Matthai (1 goal, 1 assist), Gavin McIntosh and Gabe Wettengel. And then there’s the junior group that also includes their primary ‘keeper from 2019 in Chase Morton. Andrew Beavers (3 goals), Quinten Julian, Nate Kay (1 assist) and Gavin Tarbox (1 goal) are others that could be looked upon to provide again in 2021.
HOT TAKE: This team is NOT going to go 2-16 and 0-7 again. While you would have liked to see them grow through varsity competition last year, they are two years older, two years wiser and purportedly two years better. They’ll see some major improvements as Coach Tarbox takes over for the wonderful Tom Lorkovic.
Denison-Schleswig, Harlan and Lewis Central shared the conference championship in 2019. Those three should factor into the mix, but I also wouldn’t put it past Creston or Kuemper taking a jump. Glenwood and St. Albert also bear watching while Atlantic is a bit of a question mark at this point.
Mostly, though, I think it’s worth pointing out that this is all just speculation. I personally don’t know if all those names in bold will be in a jersey this spring soccer season, and we don’t know anything about the current freshman and sophomore classes. This was merely an exercise in getting a quick, potential landscape of soccer in the Hawkeye Ten. The real fun will be in finding out what it actually looks like.
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