OTHELLO — The Othello boys soccer team took a pretty good hit during the offseason when starting goaltender Jose Chairez tore an anterior cruciate ligament and will miss his senior year.
It’s next man up in the net, and Huskies coach Bernie Garza will go with sophomore George Navarrete in goal and will also have a strong, experienced group of field position players.
“Navarrete will be our starter for the first couple of weeks. He’s played select soccer in the fall,” said Garza, who also has senior keeper Jose Gomez on the roster. “I tend to build my team around what we have, and we’re stacked with midfielders and defenders. When we’re on defense, we’ll have four (defenders) and when we push it up, we’ll have five at the midfield.”
The Huskies return the bulk of last year’s lineup, losing just Isai Zuniga to graduation. They have Sergio Mondragon, Chris Melo, Jonathan Gutierrez and Irvin Sandoval on the back end, which should help a sophomore goaltender quite a bit. They also return seniors Luis Gomez and Chris Alfaro at the midfield.
“We’ll push Sandoval up when we’re on offense and move him back when we’re playing defense,” Garza said. “We have a combination of speed on the backline. Chris will be all over the place, tracking down the forwards, and Irvin and Sergio are down the middle. They’re the big guys that will run you over. I think people will really have a tough time scoring on us this year.”
Garza said he’ll also make some adjustments up top this season, moving Reese Jones from defense to striker and Bernie Garza Jr. back to the midfield to help distribute the ball at center-mid.
“We don’t have that one go-to guy like we’ve had in the past, but they’re all role players willing to step up,” Garza said. “Reese Jones was our team goal scorer on defense last year. This year we’re stacked with defenders, so we’re going to move him all the way up up top. We’ll move Bernie to midfield.”
The Central Washington Athletic Conference is strong again this year with District 5/6 champion Grandview, along with East Valley (Yakima) and Toppenish.
Quincy played for the 2A state championship a year ago but lost almost all of its starting lineup to graduation. The key, as always, will be to win the home matches and see how many you can steal on the road, because it’s a conference where the champion can come from anywhere, Garza said.
“On paper, we look really good,” he said.”We have the players. We have the speed and a strong defense, I feel really good about where we are right now.”
For the 2017 schedule log onto www.cwacathletics.com/index.php?pid=0.35.278.9.321.