MHS looking to climb to top of the table
Talented returners, skilled newcomers should help Madras soccer make playoff run
After finishing outside the state playoff picture last season, the Madras High School boys soccer team is dead set on not repeating that this year.
And, as far as head coach Clark Jones is concerned, his team has the guys to do it.
"I feel like we've got a better starting 11 right now than what we had last season after everybody got hurt," Jones said. "We've had some players develop well in the offseason, and we've got some new guys out."
Last year, the White Buffalos were hit hard with injuries, which led to a 3-11 overall mark, and just a 3-7 record in Tri-Valley Conference play.
Jones said he's got most of his top guys ready to go this season, and doesn't foresee the same amount of injuries that essentially decimated the team last year.
"It was a perfect storm kind of with injuries and other things," Jones. "It took out a captain, plus some other key guys. But this year, the players that are supposed to be on varsity are ready to go."
Seniors Florencio Aguilar and Robert Reynoso are two players Jones will be relying on from both performance and leadership standpoints. Both are four-year varsity players and impress Jones in their own way.
"Robert is a guy that will turn himself inside out to go get a ball," Clark said. "He plays how I wish I could play. Florencio is extremely smart, and is a great team leader."
Senior goalkeeper Scott Sanchez is expected to be between the posts this year for the Buffs, and with his athleticism, he has the potential to be one of the best keepers in the conference.
"He's incredibly skilled at the position," Jones said of Sanchez.
Junior Maylo Urieta, who Jones said is among the best players on the team, is going to be one of the lynchpins in the midfield for the Buffs, and could see some time at forward as well.
"Maylo does things other people on the team simply can't do," Jones said. "He's really versatile. Our juniors are kind of the heart and soul of our bunch."
Oved Felix, a team captain as a sophomore last season, will return as a captain this season and will help lead the midfield once again.
In the sophomore class, there's a familiar face that will be back to help the club in Gustavo Pacheco, but a new addition will also be seeing significant minutes in Manny Diaz.
"Manny has a lot of soccer experience in the adult leagues, and for some reason he wasn't here last year. I'm not sure why, but he's here now and he'll see a lot of time at midfield."
Pacheco will split his time between midfield and forward, and Jones is expecting some goals out of him.
"He's a real dynamic player that can do a lot of different things," Jones said. "He's a real scoring threat for us."
Brian Renteria is another sophomore who will contribute to the varsity team this season, as well as freshman Omar Dominguez.
"Omar is the best defender that has come up this season, so it's kind of a no-brainer to start him even though he's a freshman," Jones said. "He has a lot of experience playing with these guys when they were younger."
As far as the rest of the Tri-Valley Conference goes, Jones sees it as kind of a toss up. Molalla was hit pretty hard by graduation and lost their coach, so it could be a bit of a transition year for them.
"You can't write anybody off in this league. It's real tough," Jones said. "I thought we had the guys to get to the playoffs last year, and I think we still did, but with the injuries, we ended up a few games off."
Jones sees La Salle Prep and North Marion as legitimate contenders to be at the top of the league table by season's end.
Madras is ready to get back to the state playoffs, a place they haven't been since three seasons ago, and Jones really feels this is the group to end the drought.
"With what we have, I feel like we can be really competitive," Jones said. "And really, that's all you can ask for."