PREBLE COUNTY — After a down year, county boys soccer teams will be looking to improve in 2021.
Twin Valley South contending with loss of Brayden Marker
Following last year’s 6-9-2 campaign, Twin Valley South will be without one of the most decorated players in school history: Brayden Marker.
Head coach Clay Young said Marker became the school’s all-time leading scorer last year, and estimated he had scored on or assisted on 75 percent of the team’s goals over the last four years.
“I think the season will be what the boys make out of it,” Young said. “We lost six seniors, so we are going to rely on some players that did not play much last season to step up and play big minutes.
It starts with senior goalkeeper Will Jerdon, who has been starting for the Panthers in goal for the last three season.
“He has a great work ethic and has some of the best foot skills on the team,” Young said. “We expect big things for his senior season. Will is one of our captains this year.”
Senior Jacob Clark has been with the team for three seasons and continues to get better each day, according to Young.
“He has worked hard to get himself ready for his senior season,” Young said. “We expect him to be one of those players that you can’t take off the field. He is that important to us. Jacob is another one of our captains.”
Young also noted the presence of a trio of junior midfielders – Jake Sarver, Easton Kurtz and Mason Hundley.
“Jake played defense for us last year,” Young said. “He was second-team All Miami Valley as a sophomore. Jake is all over the field. He has a strong passion for the game of soccer. He can play pretty much any position except goalie. He is very knowledgeable about the game and works hard every day to get better.”
Young said Kurtz started last year for the Panthers and is very knowledgeable about the game.
“He has worked hard at improving his foot skills for this upcoming season,” Young said. “We expect him to be one of our offense leaders this year in scoring goals and helping set up goal-scoring opportunities.”
Hundley is unique, according to Young, because he is the only left footed player on the team.
“Mason’s greatest strength is his ability to move off the ball and he gets up and down the field,” Young continued. “This kid never gets tired. As a coach you wish you had 100 of this kid. He controls the pace of the game for us. He is a great leader out on the field. Mason is our third captain.
“So offensively, I think we have players capable of stepping up and scoring goals for us,” Young said. “I think if we continue to work hard in practice and the players can work together and trust their teammates, then everything else will work itself out and we will have a successful season.
Young said he does not see a favorite in the conference, saying it will be a season where anybody can beat anybody on a given night.
“I’ve told our team I think we could win the league, but we could also finish last in the league,” he said. “I think the league is going to be pretty balanced from a skills standpoint. We will have to continue to work hard each training session and never take any games for granted. We will have to stay healthy, which has been a problem for us the last couple of seasons. “
The Panthers will begin their season at Miami Valley School on Saturday, Aug. 21.
Eaton relying on youth in 2021
Head coach Matt Money said Eaton will be “young and hungry” this season, as the Eagles return just one senior.
Senior Brady Cooper will be one of the leaders on the team, alongside junior Carson Janey and sophomore Ben Brooks, all of which were present on last year’s 7-10 squad.
“The team works hard, and I believe we can be successful in a run for championships, though that is always one of our goals,” Money said. “We will be very fit and look to keep getting better each training session.”
Money said that as always, the Eagles will “Dare To Soar” in all they do as a team.
Eaton will begin the season at home against Bethel on Saturday, Aug. 21, beginning at 5 p.m.
Tri-County North returns strong core
With a strong collection of players returning for Tri-County North this season, the Panthers will look to improve on their 3-12 record from last year.
“We find ourselves in the new WOAC conference this year,” head coach Dylan Hemmerich said. “The boys and I are business as usual. We are taking one game at a time and focusing on opponents as we should.”
Senior captain Jackson Isaacs returns as a leading scorer, and was named First-Team All District last season.
“Jack Isaacs, looking to have the best year of his career,” Hemmerich said. “Jack has been all business since the end of last season.”
Four-year starter and three-year captain Hunter Harry, who has been named Third-Team All District three years in a row, had his 2020 season ended early last year and “hopes to pick up where he left off.”
In goal, Lane Kerby was named First-Team All Conference last season and is a three-year starter at goalkeeper.
“Lane has been a staple to the team since the beginning,” Hemmerich said. “He puts up high numbers with high percentage saves every game.”
At outside defender, Conner Evans was named Special Mention All Conference last year.
“Conner plays one of the hardest positions on the field, at outside defender,” Hemmerich said. “Conner plays the position to perfection and has done nothing but get better every season.”
Walker McPeck and Gavyn Boyd also return to the team alongside newcomers Nick Meyer and Garner Parlett.
“A new addition to the back line,” Hemmerich said. “Expecting big things from the defense this year and hope that Garner can learn from the upperclassmen on the back line with him.”
Echoing Young, Hemmerich added the new conference is a toss up regarding who may win the division.
“We look forward to seeing new and old faces but we have one thing in mind and that is to grow the game of soccer in the area,” he said. “We try to play the game the right way by showing sportsmanship and playing with passion.”
North will host Brookville to begin the season on Monday, Aug. 23, beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @BradenMoles