The 2013 high school soccer season in eastern Ohio has grown since last year as Harrison Central has added both boys' and girls' squads. They join St. Clairsville's two teams, along with Monroe Central's co-ed team to give The Times Leader five squads in our coverage area.
According to Huskies' athletic director Ray Hibbs, the Cadiz-based school will "jump right into OVAC and OHSAA competition and not serve as a club team."
Coaching the Harrison Central girls team is 44-year-old Scott Ward, who has been coaching recreation league soccer for six years along with basketball and softball.
ST. CLAIRSVILLE goalkeeper Izaac Wiley prepares to clear the ball from the net last fall. He will be a key to the Red Devils’ success this season.
"Although we only have 14 young ladies on our roster, we are loaded with heart and Huskie pride," Ward noted. "The biggest change from coaching recreation soccer to the varsity high school level is the paper work.
"The support of our school board, administrators, parents club and boosters has made the transition very simple as far as uniforms and equipment.
"We are also looking forward to the support of the community in our upcoming season," he stressed.
Of the 14 players on the roster, four are seniors; four are sophomores; and six are freshmen. There are no juniors on the team
The seniors are Bree Albaugh, Roni Caldwell, Raven Cruz and Dystanee Palmer, while the 10th graders include Sara Waggoner, Britteny Maderia, Mackenzie Sheets and Gina Sadler. The frosh are Danielle Pittman, Kylee Rose, Cara Young, Makayla Black, Spenser Blumenschein and Ashley Mencer.
"We play several schools that are comparable in size to our school," Ward added. "With all the hard work that the young ladies have put into this season, I think we will shock teams with our speed and our stiff defense."
Assisting Ward will be Christie Mencer.
Harrison Central opens its inaugural season on Tuesday at East Liverpool at 7 p.m. The Huskies also travel to Weirton Madonna Saturday at 11 a.m. The very first home game in Lady Huskies history will be on Aug. 31 at 11 a.m. All home games will be played in Scio.
Eric Sheets is in his maiden year of coaching the Huskies' program.
Harrison Central travels to East Liverpool Wednesday for a 7 p.m. match.
Unfortunately, the team's information sheet wasn't returned.
Former Red Devil standout Wes Stoner takes over the reigns of the girls' program, replacing Scott Dutton who stepped aside after several good seasons.
"I'm excited," Stoner said when he took over the program. "This is a great opportunity for me to expand what I do, but I know it will be a challenge, as well."
The cupboard isn't bare as the Lady Red Devils return a wealth a talent and experience as no fewer than 12 players are back from a year ago.
Leading that group are seven seniors who be earning their fourth varsity letters. They are goalkeeper Brianna Sowers, Madison Keenan, Sarah Holtzclaw, Carlee Gillespie, Eberlee Ferrell, Kayla Dusz and Taryn Barr.
"Eberle is my little sister, so I know most, if not, all of the girls from my days helping out at the Capstone Soccer Complex," Stoner added. "That will really make the transition of a first-year head coach a lot easier."
There is only one junior on the team, that being Michaela Miller, who will be lettering for the third time. An eight-member sophomore class has a lot of potential as Sofia Weidman, Jolyn Shunk and Halee Callarik all saw extensive action last season. other 10th graders are Brea Reitter, Hannah Jordan, Sarah Erwin, Valerie Dobbs and Delainey Banks
There are nine freshmen on the roster, including Madie Fogle, Megan Fasola, Autumn Borovich, Maddie Dwyer, Rylee Wissman, Madigan Malin and Makensie Young.
Assisting Stoner is Ernie Banks.
"We are a senior-led, experienced team," Stoner noted. "We've got outstanding speed and good skills from the younger girls who are willing to learn."
When asked if his team had a weakness, he replied, "learning a new system and style of play was holding us back a little, but I think we can be pretty good."
The Lady Red Devils open up Saturday at Weirton.
With more than a dozen returnees from a team that advanced to the Division II district semifinals last season for the first time since 1999, good things are expected out of the Red Devils this fall.
Head coach Gary Watt has plenty of talent and experience back from a team that finished 12-4-2, which is always nice for a veteran head coach.
"We have a good nucleus of good kids," Watt said. "That makes it a little easier when you start practicing."
The roster includes seniors Ty Boone, Andrew Hageter, Jarrett Helms, Dylan Panepucci, Izaac Wiley and Taylor Wissman; juniors Jonathan Bartolo, Derek Gross, John Lunsford, Zach Oliver, Aaron Perkins and Sonu Tadipatri; sophomores Mikel Bland, Devan Case, Austin Douglass, Jacob Hawthorne, Lucas Heidelbach and Marrick Malin; and freshmen Matthew Cervelli, Daniel Gross, James Lodi, Damon Panepucci and Jordan Vincent.
"We have a very good and talented senior class," Watt allowed. "They should help us with leadership abilities."
St. Clairsville opens up Tuesday by hosting always-tough Cambridge at 6 p.m. at Red Devils Stadium.
Second-year head coach David McMillan is excited about the Seminoles' chances this season after a dismal 1-12 mark last fall.
"We've got nine players returning who lettered last year," he said.
When asked about his team's strength, he used one word to describe it, "unity. Last year was a tough season on everyone involved. We only had 13 players on our roster, and it was just really tough.
"With the amount of returnees that I've got this year, they're carrying over the unity of the players. They are really pulling together to be a strong team, which they did last year regardless of the score. That's the one good thing we can take from last year, no matter how bad we were losing, the team never fell apart.
"Those returning players are bringing the new players in real well. Our biggest strength will be how they play together, and the way they pull together."
Leading that group of players McMillan was referring to is senior Annie Digity, who will be a four-year letterwinner this season.
"Annie is our team captain and the heart and soul of our team," her head coach noted of his midfield standout. "She's been playing soccer for a long time."
Other key returnees are seniors Johnny Hupp, the defensive captain; Ben Green, the midfield captain; Dakota Phillips, midfield; Morgan Thompson, midfield; Derek Weber, goalkeeper; and Kyu Min Kim, midfield.
"He is a strong player with good legs," McMillan said of Hupp. "Green didn't play last year, but has played previously, and Thompson saw some time last year."
According to the coach, the 6-5 Weber will stand tall in between the posts.
"This will be Derek's first year in net," McMillan explained. "He played midfield last year. Finding a good goalie is always tough, but he has picked it up really well. Being as tall as he is, he also has quite a wing span."
Like the aforementioned Harrison Central girls' squad, the Seminoles have nary a junior on their roster.
Sophomores are defenseman Anthony Block, midfielder Logan Dimmerling, defenseman Alex Edgington, forward captain Jared Lemasters, defensemen Kayla Sexton and Brittney Modra, midfielder Jaren Hupp, forward Patrick Craig and defenseman Cole Craig.
Freshmen include forwards Maddy Craig, Ryan Smith and John Plottner; and defensemen Austin Smith and Shaina Dalrymple.