2023 SOCCER PREVIEW: Callaway boys look to build on record-breaking 2022 season
Published 9:50 am Saturday, January 28, 2023
The Callaway boys soccer team is looking to build on a historic 2022 season. The Cavaliers broke their season win by going 15-3-1 on the season.
“We’ve had good athletes, good soccer players and guys who can dance with the ball, but I think this is the best combination of those that we’ve had,” head coach Mike Petite said.
The next step for the team is sustaining this level of success and even eclipsing it. The Cavaliers made it to the second round of the playoffs, but everything fell apart for Callaway against Lamar County in a 4-1 loss that saw multiple Cavaliers shown red cards.
While the Cavaliers will have some new faces in the starting lineup, the formation will be the same as it was a season ago
“We play a 3-4-3 (formation) typically,” Petite said. “We play with some risk, but if there was little risk thee would be little reward.”
Callaway lost nine seniors from a season ago and will have to have some-less experienced players step up their absence.
“We have a lot of expectations for the younger guys, and so far, they have stepped up,” Petite said.
Callaway will be entering region play with some new faces lined up opposite of them. The Cavaliers will be playing against some unknown teams in region play, which presents its own set of problems.
“We’ve only played one team from our new region in my seven years here, and it was against Landmark Christian,” Petite said. “With the newness of the region, it’s the wild west. We don’t know what to expect.”
This is a position that will be experiencing some turnover for the Cavaliers. Gone is Nitler Recinos, who made quite an impact in his lone season at Callaway. Brayden Morris is slotted in as the starting goalkeeper this season and got some action on varsity a season ago.
“He is only a sophomore and played a lot last year because of our success but had to play behind probably our best goalkeeper ever in Nitler Recinos,” Petite said. “He got a lot of reps, but he is stepping into some seriously big shoes.”
Callaway has very little depth behind their no. 1 keeper.
Avery Brooks returns to the fold as the middle centre-back in a back three. The senior will command the backline and be one of the leaders for the team.
“He’s played as a centre-back for the last three years, and he’s a leader back there for us,” Petite said. “He’s vocal, and everybody in the back listens to him.”
There will be a rotation with four or five other guys early in the season to find out who works best alongside Brooks.
With the team playing its way into fitness early in the season, the Cavaliers will be deploying a platoon of wingbacks. Senior Eli Jones will be one of the starters on the flank and gives the Cavaliers some tireless energy and running in defense and attack.
“He goes a million miles an hour in every single drive, and I will pull him out of the game when he is dog-tired, and he will be like ‘coach I’m fine, I can.’ He’s that type of guy,” Petite said.
The other side will be occupied by some new faces and will likely see a committee approach to the position.
The midfield offers the most stability for the Cavaliers. Seniors Connor Davis and Nelson Herrara will be the key figures and leaders for the team this season.
“Our two most experienced players and two best players will be the two guys in the middle,” Petite said.
They will be expecting to run the show for the Cavaliers.
“They have a work rate that is second to none, and we have big expectations for both of them this season,” Petite said.
One of the most experienced and exciting returning players for Callaway is Journee Jordan, who is more confident than ever heading into his junior season on the field.
“He was an instant offensive kind of guy off the bench for us last year,” Petite said. “We expect him to be a big-time starter for us this year.”
Ricky Vaughn is just a freshman but will likely play a large role up front.
“He brings a lot from the technical aspect, and hopefully, we can see a lot of balls in the back of the net,” Petite said.
The Cavaliers will be looking to replace Jostin Raymundo, who provided a lot of creativity for the team up front and will be hard to replace.
The other starting spot upfront is a bit of a question mark as the Cavaliers head into their season.