By DAVID ERSOFF, Journal Sports
Season openers this week for most local boys high school soccer teams have put spectators to the test with cold temperatures. Today we’ll forecast the top seven boys teams for 2022-23, based mostly on last season’s playoff success.
DIII 4th-ranked Bossier fell to top-seeded Vandebilt Catholic 2-0 in the LHSAA semifinals. DII 6th-ranked Benton was topped 3-1 in the quarterfinals by No. 3 West Jefferson. In DII, No. 5 Caddo Magnet was bested 5-0 by No. 4 Neville in the quarterfinals.
The other local schools we’ll cover in this preview lost in Round 2. DI Byrd, ranked 11th, was edged by No. 6 Sulphur 3-2. In DI, it was No. 13 Shreve losing to 4th-ranked Alexandria 5-1. Parkway, eighth in DII, fell to No. 9 Ouachita Parish 3-1. In DIII, 14th-ranked Loyola was ousted by No. 3 Lusher Charter (now the Willow School) 6-1.
Bossier lost three seniors who played a large part in the Bearkats’ success last year. They are fortunate to have enough depth on the bench to fill in those departures. Bossier also lost returning starter Christobal Cruz to a season-ending knee injury. Speaking of his freshman class, ’Kats coach Orlando Medelin said, “If they are disciplined and dedicate themselves, they can play as freshmen.”
In addition to Bossier’s own tournament, they will travel to south Louisiana to face powerhouses DII Ben Franklin and DIII The Willow School before Thanksgiving.
Benton graduated three impact starters and will lean on upperclassman Reed Petro, Turner Hubbard, Chase Clutter and Ethan Bihler. Coach Bryan George said, “We have a few experienced veterans mixed in with some up-and-coming talent who are looking to make an impact in our new district.” The Tigers are moving to DI.
Coach George has created a strong DI schedule to get the team used to the higher level of overall competition statewide that DI brings.
Magnet lost an All-State player in Jonathan Woldie and also graduated its all-district keeper Mark De Leon. The 2022-23 club will lean heavily on Alex Baltov, Diego Martinez, and Jakyran Pierson. Coach Nick Flowers said, “Our freshmen have not yet stood out as impact players, but there are some with potential to get quality minutes as the season moves along.”
Magnet has signed up for the West Ouachita and EIL College Showcase in Lafayette tournaments. Magnet’s strongest competition for the district title will be Parkway and newcomer North DeSoto.
Byrd graduated four high-impact seniors from last season. Coach Gary McCormick said upperclassmen Matt Booras, Brennen Nguyen, Nolan Bruce and Carson French will be expected to carry the load. Byrd also has a large underclass that it hopes will develop throughout the season.
Byrd has plans to attend the Airline tournament and the EIL College Showcase, while also playing Neville and West Monroe, to prepare for the state playoffs.
Captain Shreve graduated 10 seniors from last year’s team. Andrew Bradford and Kyle Reeves will be leaned on for leadership going forward. Coach Greg Palmer said, “Bradford and Reeves are both back healthy and raring to go for the season.”
The Gators’ top goal-scorer from last year, Colin Elston, is back and looking to add to his career totals. Shreve does have a large sophomore class that will fill in the open starting spots.
Shreve is attending the Airline, Bossier, Rebel Cup and EIL tournaments and will travel twice to Lafayette to play four top teams in the Acadiana area.
Parkway lost a record-setting goal-scorer in Maximus Holt. New coach Raymond Lee will depend on returning stars Aeron Burrell, Daniel Lee, Nolan Dean and Brasen Teutsch to help overcome that loss. Freshman Jax Thomson has the potential to play quality minutes, if he progresses the way he has thus far this fall.
Parkway so far has only signed up for the Airline tournament but has quality opponents in the Monroe and Alexandria areas, and has all the local powerhouse teams scheduled.
Parkway scrimmaged Bossier last week, and it was obvious from the Panthers’ effort that Coach Lee has gotten this young team to buy into his vision of soccer. Experience will only help this team develop.
Loyola will be dropping to DIV from DIII, which could be a blessing, having lost six high impact starters. Coach Wes Kyle will lean on senior Jackson Drouillard to lead the very young team. Sophomore keeper Hudson Moore had to step up last season and will benefit greatly from that experience, going into his second year. Freshman Zeke Savant will also be called on early in his high school career to step into the fire.
Loyola has signed up for the Copa Acadiana Showcase tournament in Lafayette and the Vicanza Classico at St. Frederick’s in Monroe.
Contact David at email@example.com