Central Catholic remains the team to beat
David Douglas could make a surprise run for the top behind a rookie scorer and a new head coach
Last season marked a tight race in the Mount Hood Conference with only three standings points separating second place from fifth place.
Reigning league champ Central Catholic is expected to return to the top this fall despite having only a handful of seniors on the roster. The Rams are unbeaten through four matches this season, giving up only three total goals.
Following are previews of the East County teams
The Bruins tied for second place a year ago behind the leagues stingiest defense. Head coach Neal Bridgnell is hoping for more of the same in 2012 from a club that has started out with three shutouts in its four nonleague matches.
We still have a few guys in the back from last season, and well need to be solid there because there are some talented strikers in our league, Bridgnell said.
Seniors Tanner Wingfield and Brandon Stensrud patrol much of the Barlow zone, while junior Sam Bridgnell returns in goal as the last line of defense.
The challenge for this years team will be to create scoring chances after ranking fifth out of the MHCs six teams in offensive production last year. Much of that duty will fall to seniors Andrew Stephens and Kevin Muniz.
If we can get the ball in the box, we dont have to rely on just one guy to finish, Bridgnell said. But were still looking for that right combination. We have a deep roster, but we havent found the perfect fit yet.
DAVID DOUGLAS SCOTS
David Douglas was one of two teams to topple league champion Central Catholic last season, but that proved to be the biggest highlight for a team that failed to reach the state playoffs.
First-year coach Logan Marquardt looks to get David Douglas over that postseason hurdle this fall. He has been an assistant in the program the past four years, heading up the jayvee team in 2011.
I want to continue building on the last few years, Marquardt said. Weve been struck in the middle and want to climb up into one of those top three spots and avoid those play-ins. We want to take care of business in the regular season.
The Scots got are off to a good start with two wins and two draws early this season, including a lopsided 4-0 win over Centennial in Tuesdays league opener.
Heading up the attack is four-year player Victor Sanchez along with junior Orlando Garcia, who have logged a lot of time playing together in the off-season.
They are both very creative forwards, Marquardt said.
Freshman Hernan Hermosilo is also expected to get his share of scoring chances at sweeper.
He was a member of the Eastside United club team that reached the national tournament.
Another four-year varsity member, Hector Jiminez, anchors the back line, while Oscar Torres plays in goal.
After suffering a winless season in 2011, the Raiders are off to a more promising start this fall after opening league play with a 3-1 victory over Barlow this week.
What thrills me most with this team is that they are committed to representing the school by working hard on and off the field, Raiders coach Allan Barry said.
The team has found the net in all but one of its five matches so far this season a renewed attack led by junior Eloy Cruz, who saw limited time last year while dealing with a back injury.
Hes highly skilled a tremendous player, Barry said.
He is joined up front by senior Gil Soto and Rene Martinez, while senior Manuel Tinoco steps into goal after not playing last year.
Centennial and Gresham coaches could not be reached in time for this preview.