Despite losing three all-league performers, the Archbold boys soccer team should still have plenty of talent, according to coach Sean Stewart.
“This is definitely one of the most talented overall squads we have had in our history,” said Stewart. “We believe we have the ability to win against any team in the district, but will have to prove that we can score on a consistent basis in order to do so.”
Four all-league honorees lead the returning letter winners for the Streaks, who were 11-3-3 overall and fourth in the NWOAL at 2-2-1. Senior center midfielder Jeremy Lerma returns following a season where he was named first team all-league and second team all-district.
Senior Elijah Robinson was second team all-district and all-league, while senior Mike Weigand was second team all-league and junior Austin Welch was honorable mention all-league. Also back for Archbold are senior AJ Short and juniors Jereme Rupp, Jack Fisher and Kegan Ott and sophomores Lucas Yoder and Kaiden Bedsole.
Newcomers will be counted on to replace the production of departed seniors. Gone are Gavin Morton, second team all-state; Matt Sevey, first team all-league; Andy Bilen, honorable mention all-league; Jackson Waidelich, Oscar Calderon, Jesse Felix, Jorge Arce and Brandon Bryan.
“We have a very talented group coming up from last season’s JV as well as some quality incoming freshmen,” said Stewart. “There will be a lot of competition for varsity minutes with a very deep roster. Look for sophomore Denver Beck to make an impact coming into an important center back role. Freshman Josh Kidder has had a very impressive preseason campaign along with a host of other underclassmen.”
The biggest strength for Archbold will be depth.
“We will have varsity-quality players throughout the JV this season that can step in whenever needed,” said Stewart. “Our midfield is very good at keeping the ball, and we have plenty of creative players that will give us opportunities at goal.”
He added that the defense should be solid with a good mix of experience and young talent. “Our goalkeeper (Elijah Robison) is one of the best shot-stoppers in the division and can keep us in games when needed.”
Last year, the Streaks had trouble finding the net and will need to improve on that aspect.
“It will be up to our two or three forwards to really take the opportunities that we create,” said Stewart. “We are confident this will improve this year, and we will also be able to get some goals out of our talented midfield.”
The coach said the Streaks will look to improve on a disappointing 2014 NWOAL campaign. “We should be challenging for the league title along with Bryan. Swanton proved itself last season with a great tournament run, so they will feel confident as well,” he said.
Drew Stambaugh can be reached at 419-335-2010