Indians made the playoffs last season, and ever since the girls won a state title, they've wanted one of their own
Over the first two seasons as the head coach for the Scappoose boys soccer program, Scott Stanton was used to organizing summer workouts, generally consisting of an open expanse of grass, a handful of athletes and a soccer ball under the hot sun.
It was usually a situation where Stanton did all the work of contacting team members and setting up get-togethers, and so it can be easy to imagine why seeing a number of the team members cars parked near the middle school field in the middle of summer might bring a smile to Stantons face.
I would drive by and see one of their cars here and I would pull in and say whats up? and talk to them for a little bit; just kind of goofing around, passing the ball and taking shots and stuff like that, Stanton said. Id look, and thered be a mountain of water bottles. Its like six oclock in the evening, [and Id say] how long have you guys been here? and theyd say oh since 10 this morning.
The added, voluntary workouts have had a much greater effect than the simple conditioning aspect. Many of the players, after bonding over last seasons relative success, have a far better feel for one anothers tendencies and habits on the soccer field.
Theyve created this culture of just enjoying being together and playing together so that they now organize their own stuff, said Stanton, who coached the team to their first playoff appearance – a 7-2 loss on the road to North Bend – in recent memory last fall.
You get players that end [the season] in October or November or whatever, and dont touch a ball again until August, he said. Theres a lot of rust that needs to be worked off, and confidence on the ball needs to be built back up and all that.
If practices so far are any evidence, there isnt any rust. Seniors Asa Flanagan and Devon Linville have developed into team leaders both on and off the field, shouldering the load as the team transitions from a defensively-minded squad that jumps on counter-attacking chances, into a team that looks to score.
And for Flanagan, theres a little extra motivation.
Asa actually asked me the other day what the school record is for most goals scored in a season and a single game. You can already tell where his heads at, said Stanton, who directed Flanagan to the mind of former coach Bob Deuker. The answer? Six goals in a game.
I said Asa, you scored six goals against (Yamhill-Carlton) last year. Thats your own record. Hes like yeah, I know. Its seven. Ive got to beat my own record, said Stanton, laughing.
Flanagans high aspirations may be more difficult to attain than during last seasons run. The Cowapa League waved goodbye to Yamhill-Carlton, sending the Tigers to join a league further to the south, and added Valley Catholic, formerly of the first special district in the small-school division. The Valiants move up from a league which saw a representative in the small-school title game in each of the last 16 seasons with the exception of 2011. In addition, Banks wont field a team after having fewer than five athletes show up to tryouts.
Needless to say, theyll be tough competition, but under Stanton, the Indians have slowly shown an increase in mental toughness and confidence in their own abilities. Stanton remembers the daunting task of playing Astoria in his first season, the reigning league champs and Cowapa League powerhouse as far back as Stanton could recall.
Wed pull in and the boys would be talking about a great time on the way there. The bus would park and turn off and the door opens and all the heads go down and shoulders drop, Stanton said. Im looking around thinking that weve already lost the game and we havent even gotten off the bus yet.
The tables quickly turned, and the Indians found themselves up 2-0 at the break – and Astoria was in tears with frustration. The Fishermen ended up coming back to win the game, but from that point on, the Astoria coach scouted Scappoose every chance he got, and never once overlooked the Tribe again.
The Indians lost only a handful of players from last season, and will return goalkeeper Isaac Hamm, their entire back line and most of the midfield. And with experience comes lofty goals.
Theyre bigger, theyre more experienced, and they want it this year. Ever since the girls won it last year, they want a state championship themselves, said Stanton with a knowing smile. I take it one game at a time, but thats fine. If thats their end goal, then Ill do everything I can to get them there.