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Statewide Boys Soccer Preview
From 5A to 3A, coaches across Idaho are ready to chase down a state title
Published: 9/1/2020 4:36:48 PM
 


With the 2020 season right around the corner, many teams across the state are eager to find success amidst a chaotic year. 

CLASS 5A

The Eagle Mustangs aim to defend last year’s state title after coming off an 12-7-2 record. 

Last season, the Mustangs finished fifth in league play, well behind 2019's state title favorite Boise, which ended the regular season 14-0 in the conference. But in a shocking turn of events, the Brave failed to secure the district title, followed quickly by a loss to Madison in the state play-in game. The Mustangs would go on to represent the Treasure Valley in the playoffs and hope to dethrone Boise as the SIC's soccer powerhouse in 2020. 

On the opposite side, the Skyview Hawks look to bounce back after a heartbreaking championship loss to Eagle a season ago. After finishing the season on a four-game win streak heading into the championship game, the Hawks fell short in a 2-1 loss to the Mustangs. The Hawks aim to take control of the offensive side once again this season, and if they can keep the same offensive firepower from last year, Skyview can make a deep run in the playoffs. 

Another team preparing for a revenge tour will be the Lake City Timberwolves.

The Timberwolves fell short in the state semifinals last season to Skyview in a 5-0 shutout and look to get back to the playoffs again this year. Alan Rich enters his fifth season with Lake City, with hopes of winning Lake City’s first state title since 1997. 

Senior midfielder Devin Claflin returns for the Timberwolves after last season finishing with first team all-league honors. After a stellar 2019 campaign, Claflin looks to take his game to new heights and take his squad all the way to the state title. After getting the award for newcomer of the year last season, sophomore forward Bryce Allred looks to continue improving his game as well, along with his brother, junior goalkeeper Tyler Allred.

After losing three key starters in their midfield a season ago, Rich said he is excited for the new talent that will join the squad this season. 

“Miles Jones and Tyler Gasper bring quality and maturity to our midfield and back line along with several other developing players from last year's JV,” Rich said. 

After last season’s struggles in the playoffs, Rich says that the bond of this team seems to be stronger than last year. 

“Our team chemistry was not as strong as I would have liked and it is much improved this year,” Rich said. 

With continued chemistry, Rich says that the depth of this squad can help propel this team to new heights this season. 

“We have more balance and versatility this season,” Rich said. “We have several players that can play multiple positions well, giving us more options.” 

The growth and maturity of the Lake City Timberwolves could be big key factors on their path towards another deep state playoff run. 


CLASS 4A

Within 4A play, one team that will look to flip their fortunes from last season will be the Bishop Kelly Knights. 

Bishop Kelly Head Coach Jared Vreeland enters his sixth season with the Knights and hopes to turn around a struggling program. The Knights finished with a 2-13-3 record last season, but despite the struggles, the only direction this squad can go is up. 

With the abundance of top returning talent, the Knights have a chance to make a splash and surprise many this season. Junior midfielder Nic Taugher returns after receiving first-team all-conference honors last season, and hopes to lead his squad through a difficult conference slate.  Sophomore forward Colton Crawford also returns for the Knights, and gained second team all-conference honors last season as well. 
 
“Last year our team lacked depth and were very young. We started mostly sophomores and freshmen with few upperclassmen,” Vreeland said. “This resulted in some tough matches for us. Offensively, we struggled to score goals, especially against stronger competition.”

This season, Vreeland is excited about the maturity and depth that he believes his squad can bring. 

“Our program is deeper than it has ever been in my six years of coaching at Bishop Kelly,” Vreeland said. “We have 20 players that can legitimately contribute to our team’s success. Due to our struggles last year, the boys are motivated to show they can play and compete with the best 4A teams in the state.” 

One of the squads that Vreeland is especially excited to take on this season will be the defending state champion Caldwell Cougars. 

“Caldwell is the team to beat,” Vreeland said. “We always enjoy playing them, they have won multiple state titles and right now they are the benchmark program.”

Last season, Caldwell finished with an 19-2-1 record on its path to finishing as the top team in 4A Idaho high school boys soccer. 

One of the teams the Cougars defeated on their way to a state title last season was the Moscow Bears.

After coming up short in the state semifinals in a 3-0 loss to the Caldwell Cougars, the Bears aim to get back to the playoffs and grab a taste of a championship themselves. 

Pedram Rezamand will enter his second season as the Moscow head coach after boasting a successful 8-5-2 record during his first season with the program. 

Five key seniors return for the Bears, with midfielder Evan Odberg leading the way for Moscow. 
Odberg returns after receiving league MVP honors last year, and looks to have another dominant performance this season. 

Senior forward Amin Rezamand won the award for league’s best newcomer last season, and will look to be another great weapon for the Moscow offense. Despite the Bears losing 11 players due to graduation, as well as their starting goalkeeper, coach Rezamand believes they can still find success. 

“The biggest strength in our team is that they function as a team and one unit,” Rezamand said.

Rezamand said if his team can stay healthy and stick to the game plan this season, then the wins will soon follow.

“Sticking with our predefined plan for each game was an issue,” Rezamand said. “We also had several injuries that put four to five key players out of commission for long periods of time.”


CLASS 3A

In 3A, Sun Valley Community School looks to find it’s third straight state title they claimed in 2019. 

Head Coach Richard Whitelaw enters his 29th season at the helm, establishing SVCS as one of the best 3A programs in the state. 

The Cutthroats lost 10 seniors from their previous state title team, and despite having five seniors returning, Whitelaw said it will be difficult to replace what that group brought to the program in 2019.
 
Whitelaw said the young squad can still be one of the most competitive within conference play this year. 

“Due to our lack of experience defensively this season, we certainly will not be short of passion, pride and desire,” Coach Whitelaw said. “We have 37 eager players ready to make an impression. Let’s hope we manage to play a full season.” 

One team that played nearly perfect last year, was the American Falls Beavers.

The Beavers fell short in the state semifinals in a heartbreaking loss to the eventual champion Cutthroats. The Beavers finished the season winning the third-place game with a record of 16-3-1 on the year. 

Going into this season, American Falls Head Coach Miguel Mata believes going back to the basics and focusing on team play will help in the long haul. 

“Last year, we depended a lot on the individualities of our players, I think that’s not good,” Coach Mata said. “This year, we must focus on playing as a team.”

If the Beavers have a top strength, Coach Mata believes it is the family unit his team brings this season. 

“Many of these players know each other very well and have been playing together for a long time,” Mata said. “I think the team is like a family with a great quality as a whole. There are good players who will help the team to play more together and not depend on a single player.”

Up north, the Bonners Ferry Badgers look to make a longer stay in 2020’s playoff.The Badgers finished with a 14-4-1 record last year, losing to Bliss in the second round of the state playoffs. 

In his sixth season as head coach, Brycen Lunger believes this year the Badgers enter with a chip on their shoulder. 

“I think our whole team has something to prove,” Lunger said in an interview. “I think we will have quite a few new faces step up and prove something this year.”

Finding more success on the offensive end is something that Lunger hopes his squad can get going this season. 

“Being explosive offensively, Bonners Ferry is known for defense so we are working on a better attack,” Lunger said. 

 
 


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