High school soccer doesn't officially start until August, but Wes Stoner is ready to go now.
Stoner, a 2000 graduate of St. Clairsville High School, is one of the top scorers in Red Devils' history on the boys' side. He was named head coach of the girls' team during a meeting of the St. Clairsville-Richland School District last week.
"I'm excited," Stoner said. "I can't wait. This is a great opportunity for me to expand what I do, but I know it will be a challenge, as well."
Stoner takes over for Scott Dutton who served as head coach for several years after Joe Kubik stepped down. Dutton had served as Kubik's assistant during his daughter, Jaclyn's, superb high school career that ended with her setting the new goal-scoring standard in the Buckeye State, a mark that still stands today.
Stoner is no stranger to soccer, especially when it comes to coaching girls.
"I've helped out at Capstone (Soccer Complex) for the nine last nine years coaching Under-10, Under-12 and Under-14 teams," he explained. "This is my first head coaching job at the high school level, but I feel I'm ready to accept the challenge."
Stoner began playing soccer at the age of 4 at the Bethany College Soccer Camps. He played club soccer from 7 or 8 years old to the age of 19, including for the Soccer Vision Academy in Wheeling, which was coached by former Wheeling Park head girls' coach Anthony James.
"He was the best coach I've ever had," Stoner said of James. "I will try and model my coaching career after his."
Of course, every coach has his or her different philosophies and such.
"We'll make some changes," he added. "Every coach has different schemes and formations. I'll put the girls in different places and she which suits them and the team the best."
It also helps to be familiar with the players, and that shouldn't be a problem for Stoner, who served as the boys' assistant coach under Gary Watt for the past few seasons.
"My little sister, Eberle Ferrell, plays on the team, so most of the girls know me as Eberle's big brother," he said with a smile. "I've also been around most of them during the recreational leagues during the summer."
Stoner was All-OVAC and All-District during his playing days. He won a state championship in West Virginia while playing for a premier travel team.
Stoner and his wife, Allison, reside in St. Clairsville with their daughter, Ava. They are expecting another daughter in a few months.
North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org