PCHS boys’ soccer: New coach, new team, new season
February 28, 2012
When the Park City High School boys’ soccer team is finalized this afternoon, the squad will have less than 24 hours to celebrate before the 2012 season kicks off.
Under new head coach and former PCHS star Jesse Blais, the Miners, coming off an 11-5-1 season last year and a 4-0 first-round playoff exit, are hoping to bounce back to where they’re accustomed to being — near the top of 3A soccer.
Park City travels south to start its season with a three-game set as it will face Cedar Thursday, Desert Hills Friday and Snow Canyon Saturday. Due to the unpredictable weather at this time of year, the Miners will play their first seven games of the season away from home.
"I think it’s going to be a big trip for us," said Blais, a 2002 graduate of Park City High School. "I’m excited. It came up fast, but we have a good schedule. If everything plays out, we’ll be in a good position."
Blais inherits a team that lost loads of talent last year. Gone are seniors Anthony Alcox (16 goals), Bryan Park (five goals) and Eric Laufer (four goals). The backline will be without Sam Williams and Mitch Von Puttkamer.
But Blais hopes the younger talent on the team can be integrated with an expected senior-heavy starting 11.
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"I think we’re going to have to utilize the young talent in pushing the older guys," he said. "In the back of their minds, they always know their spot is up for grabs.
"It’s definitely going to be a point of emphasis in the meetings and tryouts. No one is guaranteed a spot. To be competitive, I’m going to play the players that put forth the effort and have the skill to back it up."
The core group Park City welcomes back includes seniors Michael Capone, Joey Goodwin, Keenan McCall, Keenan Ward, Matt Stevens, Alejandro Viera, Connor Ray, Sam Scudder and other senior hopefuls. The Miners should also have promising talent in juniors Garrett Bullough and Brad Mulick.
And there’s more, Blais said.
"The older guys, guys like Keenan Ward, Keenan McCall, Joey Goodwin, Michael Capone, they’re going to be a heart of the team," he said. "But our sophomore class is really deep. They have a lot of good talented players; any of the sophomores or freshmen may even be on my team."
After coaching the junior varsity squad for three years under previous head coach Caro Caro, Blais said his rapport with many of his varsity players is already established and he expects those relationships to help carry the team throughout the difficult, road-heavy stretch to start the season.
"There has to be that respect factor," he said. "The players have to understand that it is a team effort."
The former Park City star said he hopes to get his alma mater back to the glory days of pulverizing the back of the opposing net and winning 3A state championships, as the Miners did in back-to-back years in 2008 and 2009.
But he knows his program has company. After decades without a state championship, Park City’s rival, Wasatch, won the 3A title in 2011 with a 19-1 record. And now, Region 10 has been toughened even more with the addition of storied programs such as Juan Diego and Judge Memorial.
"We’ll have some good matchups this year," Blais said.