Last year, the Camp Verde boys soccer team finished third in the region and was done after the first round of state. But this year's team may not have such an abbreviated season with the talented youngsters on the roster.
With a new batch of players this season and their willingness to play and practice hard, Coach David Miller has more than talent, he has desire.
Two returning seniors are back with a total of six seniors all together. The rest of the roster is made up two returning juniors and a sophomore as well as many talented kids up from the JV team and those who bided their time on the bench last year.
Senior returning starters Mike Wales and Lorenzo Reyes are back at the keeper and striker positions. Both will share the two positions as well as lead the team as captains.
"We had a bunch of young guys to step like up Jameson Bullard who made the varsity team and will be starting at outside defense. Judah Landavaso has also nabbed an outside defense position as well," Miller said.
Ben Bassous will be the stopper this year with a real athletic ability. Diego Nogez, a sophomore, will see time like Wales as the striker and keeper. Coach Miller is comfortable with who he has at the keeper position and will rotate the players around a bit.
As always, the Cowboys will be strong defensively to start the season off. That strength hopefully will keep the team competitive until the offense catches up.
"We will lean on the defense early in the season as the midfield and offense come together," said Coach Miller. "It usually takes time to get those guys in gear."
The midfielders aren't looking too shabby, although it's early in the season. The three-man crew of Joel Presmyk, Ryan Emory and Walter Orllena are the heart of the team. All three have great experience and coach Miller will be able to grow the offense from the center mid position on out.
"I've got a good solid starting team," said Miller. "Despite the lack of experience, the team will grow together. The non-starters are really solid players; they just need more experience. Their great attitudes help the team and we have great depth."
The chemistry on the team is encouraging to coach Miller.
"They are all great kids and they love to be at practice," said Miller. "You'd have to love practice to be out there in 110-degree heat. They are all always there."
What is really impressive to Miller this year is the number of freshmen out for the team. Fourteen players have come out to join the team and not just beginners but quality athletes that will do well at the JV level.
As far as a game plan, Coach Miller just says that you have to adapt to the personnel on the team and not the other way around.
"It would be great to come up with a set style and groom players to that style, but better coaches adapt and change with their players," said Miller. "We'll play Cowboys soccer ... strong defense and opportunity goals. I think we have the capability for some quick strikes and we need to control the ball as much as possible."
The Cowboys will have some real tests this season in their region. Teams that Coach Miller expects to be tough are Verde Valley and Northland Prep, both of those teams improve every year.
The Cowboys will have their first test of the season against St. Johns on Saturday, Sept. 1 at home. The game begins at 4 p.m. for Varsity and 2 p.m. for JV.