It’s been five years since a Rapid City high school boys team won a state soccer title, the last a Rapid City Stevens win over Aberdeen Central in the 2015 title clash.
This could be the year that the Rapid City short dry spell ends as both Stevens and Central are looking to rebound from a 2019 season that ended too early and a spot on the top of the podium come State final’s day in Huron on Oct. 17.
“We underperformed at the wrong time and played one of our least effective games of the year,” Stevens boys coach Jeff Fierro said of his team’s 1-0 loss to Brandon Valley in last year’s quarterfinal round. “We thought we were one of the best teams in the state last year, and while I don’t want to jinx us, we feel that we will be tough to beat if we live up to our potential. That’s always a big question mark, but I definitely feel like we have the right group of guys to make that happen.”
Rapid City Central coach Joe Sabrowski, though a bit more cautious, is harboring high expectations as well.
“We had a good season, but I thought we could have gone farther than we did,” Sabrowski said. “Can we make postseason? Without a doubt. We should be able to produce and score goals with anybody.”
Here’s a look at the two squads as well as other Black Hills area teams heading into the 2020 season.
Rapid City Stevens (7-3-3 in 2019)
Head coach: Jeff Fierro.
Returnees: Seniors Damon Lushbough (D), Blake Middleton (F), Russ Moriarty (M), Devonte Parker (M), Chris Policky (D), Ethan Schuelke (D), Brendan Thompson (D) & Rex Wiebe (M); juniors Trey Bradley (F), Levi Busching (M), Garet Rus (GK) & Wyatt Thomas; sophomores Shawn Bauer & Zack Williams.
Expectations: The Raiders lost nine seniors from last year’s squad, though they do have eight returning so experience abounds. Much of the experience comes on the back row and in the midfield and thus the team’s success may hinge on the success of a young but talented set of forwards. Garrett Rush a junior and Shawn Bauer, a sophomore, will vie for goal keeper duties.
Coach’s comment: “Seniors Damon Lushbough and Chris Policky will lead us on defense. Both are really strong defenders. And in the mid-field we are looking for Ross Moriarty and Rex Wiebe, good distributors and transition guys to attack and defend. Up top, is probably where we are youngest, but we have, in my opinion, two of the best forwards in the state in sophomore Zack Williams and junior Trey Bradley.”
Rapid City Central (7-4-2)
Head coach: Joe Sabrowski.
Returnees: Seniors Tanner Drury (D/M), Cole Jandreau (D/M), Thane Nieman (D/M), Jaden Stephens (F), Carson Versteeg (M) and Quincy Warren (GK); juniors Landin Winter (D) and Harold Ogbozor (F).
Newcomers: Tyler Roe (a midfielder returning from a year in Spain) and sophomores Cedric Munoz and Riley Roe.
Expectations: Though losing seven starters from last year’s team, the Cobblers will count on the efforts of veteran goal keeper Quincy Warren to keep opponents off the board while the defense rebuilds. An addition of speed and size in midfield and upfront should provide dividends for an offense that struggled at times last year.
Coach’s comment: “We lost seven starters (graduation and transfers) but we gained Tyler back and some other new players coming in. And we have some new players, Cedric Munoz and Riley Roe, from a sophomore class that is pretty dynamic. Quincy is back in goal, and Jayden Stephens is back and he is versatile and can virtually anywhere. And Landin Winter has a presence on the field. And Carson Versteeg plays midfield and holds the ball well and moves it well. We are more experienced in midfield and just need to find a finisher up front, an area we struggled with last year.”
Douglas/RC Christian (4-9-1)
Head coach: Doug Kenoyer.
Returnees: Seniors Dillon Trevino, Jordyn Simmering and Isiah Hirchert; juniors Shoki Ruebel, Colten Smith and Christian Reuppel and sophomore Ryan Gaughn.
Expectations: The Patriots will be young (five sophomores and five freshman) with but three seniors on the roster, and will count on a junior class that saw considerable playing time last season to carry the team at the outset.
Expectations: “We are going to continue to try to improve over our prior year’s performances. I expect to hopefully complete a full season of soccer, but that is dependent upon how healthy we stay.”
Head coach: Jim Hill.
Returning letterwinners: The Spartans return 14 letterwinners including 8 starters from last year’s team.
Expectations: A perennially strong team, Spearfish will feature an experienced team that stood toe-to-toe with every opponent last year (as evidenced by the fact that the Spartans handed state champion Sioux Falls Roosevelt its only loss of the year.
Coach’s comment: “With a few good bounces of the soccer ball going our way, we could be playing for a championship. The Rapid City Centtral Cobblers and Steven Raiders are always very competitive, along with the four Sioux Falls schools. For 2019, we were 5th at the end of the regular season.”
Sturgis Brown (10-4)
Head coach: Tyler Louder.
Returning letter winners: Seniors Kale Dennis, Brodie Eisenbraun, Thro Sundstrom, Jax Schuster, Brody Brink, Taylor Tobias, Coy Fischer, Kyle Cutts, Travis Cassen, Jared Sailer, and junior Ray Henderson.
Expectations: The Scoopers will count on the 10 seniors on the squad to provide leadership on and off the field.
Coach’s comment: “This season we are expecting to be even more competitive than last year. We have come into the season in the best shape so far in my 6 years here in Sturgis. We should be able to bring a high level of competitiveness to compete with the top eight in the state.”
CLASS A BOYS
Belle Fourche (1-12-1)
Head coach: Anthony Carbajal.
Returning Letterwinners: Senior Josiah Trimble; juniors Conrad Schreier, Charles Alberts, Tristin Hendricks and Ethan Jensen; sophomores Hunter Cherveny, Brayden Carbajal and Anthony Staley.
Expectations: The Broncs’s hopes will ride on the development and maturity of a very young team that will be heavily laden with freshmen and sophomores.
Coach’s comment: “My expectations for this team are high. The passion and love for this game by this team is strong. The chemistry they have together on and off the field is impressive. There is a great deal of talent for such a young team. Unlike last year we only have two seniors. However these two seniors have strong leadership, commitment and constantly display a strong sense of team! I am excited to see what this season holds for them.”
St. Thomas More (6-8-2)
Head coach: Nate Sales.
Returning lettermen: Senior Sam Evans, junior Aaron Nelson, sophomores Jason Albertson, Will Green and Tom Solano and freshman Trevor Erlandson.
Other returnees: senior Brandon Berzina (did not play last year), junior Kayden Schultz, sophomores Dhruv Goyal, Garrett Kerkenbush, Aaron Lemon, Winston Prill, David Rangel, Gavin Ryder, Henry Snyder, freshman Westin Edwards and 8th graders Declan Duffy, Tommy Rogers and Dawson Wagner.
Expectations: With but six upperclassmen (four seniors and two juniors), the Cavaliers will need sizable contributions from a large youth contingent to improve upon last year’s record.
Coach’s comment: “St. Thomas More boys soccer program has always had history of playing hard for one another and rallying around each other, and this year we expect the same. Some families have had to make hard choices about this upcoming school year and what to do with their child’s education. This has affected our numbers from previous years, however players we have returning are strong leaders and ready to step up.”
Hot Springs (1-8)
Head coach: Robert Preuss.
Returnees: The Bison list three seniors (Bradley Hagen, Sheldon West, Kassandra Mansilla) and three juniors on the roster (Ellie Eidsness, Spencer Hagan) on the roster.
Expectations: With but six upperclassmen and a roster dotted with freshmen and 7th graders, rebuilding for the future will be this year’s goal.
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