The McClain boys varsity soccer team will rely on team speed and nine returning lettermen to offset the loss of nine key seniors last year to graduation.
Jon Chamblin enters his fourth season as varsity coach after being an assistant at McClain for the previous 10 seasons.
Four seniors – Tommy Henry, Cody Hardesty, Derek Weller and Trace Poore – will be counted on heavily to lead an inexperienced and youthful team into the new season.
“We took a big hit losing nine seniors to graduation last year so we know we have a lot of holes to fill,” said Chamblin. “We lost some key players on offense and defense along with one of the league’s best goalkeepers in Cameron Spangler. But we have some great kids returning that play well together who know what each other can do, so they’re able to anticipate.”
Overall team speed is considered the main strength to begin the season and they should be a very conditioned and in shape team. Despite having nine people returning, only a few have much varsity experience so that will be a major concern for Coach Chamblin early in the season.
“We’ve had to condition a lot harder this year knowing we would be short on numbers this year,” Chamblin said. “So this team’s going to be in excellent shape when they take the field. We had 19 kids last year and we only have 13 this year, which will make it tough, especially when it comes to substituting players.”
Key returners on offense will be Hardesty and Henry and juniors Kaleb Shepard and Brandon Goddard, both juniors who return as the top two defensive players.
Chillicothe who is the two-time defending South Central Ohio League champion is again considered the favorite after going undefeated in the league the past two seasons.
“Chillicothe is probably the team to beat in the league, but after that I think the league is very balanced and even,” continued Chamblin. “We’ve finished second the last couple of seasons and Clinton-Massie and Hillsboro tied for third last year.”
Team goals for McClain this year are to win a league championship and go as far in the tournament as possible.
“We have a couple of talented freshman this year and a new keeper, sophomore Cameron Yates, who has been working very hard to fill that important spot on the team,” the coach said. “These guys have come a long way since we started conditioning and are a lot further along than I expected them to be at this point. I really do look for big things out of this group this season so everybody needs to come out and support us. We promise to give you a good game to watch.”