Wilbanks is named District Coach of the Year
Cassville Wildcats place 10 on Class 2, District 5 All-District team
By George Ulmer
It is hard to imagine the state Final Four not being intimidating for Cassville Head Soccer Coach Brian Wilbanks. The first-year coach had been there before but only as an assistant in Cassville's 2005 run to state.
When comparing the four coaches who led their teams to this year's Class 2 state championships, Wilbanks had one year and 22 wins under his belt as head coach compared to 54 years and 819 wins for the other three coaches combined.
"I was not intimidated, because I had been there before under Coach (Terry) Jamieson," said Wilbanks.
Wilbanks' demeanor helped Cassville pick up right where they had finished last year. The coach led his new team to a district championship and a fourth place finish in the state.
"From the start my main focuses were on defense and team play," said Wilbanks, "Conditioning and toughness were already evident in the players; I just had to work to keep them that way."
Wilbanks' success this season earned him District Coach of the Year honors and helps reinforce Cassville's reputation as one of southwest Missouri's top soccer programs.
In total, Cassville had 10 players named to the All-District team. Five of Cassville's players were named to the All-District first team.
Leading the squad was forward Uziel Franco, who was Cassville's top goal scorer with 39 goals, which set a new school record for goals in a season. The junior showed amazing quickness on the field and was an excellent ball handler. He also tallied four assists.
On the other side of the field was senior Ryan Schlichtman, who had long lived in the shadow of older brother Nick Schlichtman, former Cassville star and current Truman State player. However this season, the younger Schlichtman usurped his brother in career goals with 77 to set a new school record. Schlichtman also proved to be Cassville's best all-around player, tallying 29 goals for the Wildcats with a team-leading 10 assists.
Aaron Jamieson also did an excellent job for a man whose position changed a lot this season. Jamieson, listed as a back fielder for Cassville, would also come up and play attacking midfield for the Wildcats when they needed more offensive fire power. The junior also handled direct and in-direct kicking duties as well as Cassville's throw-ins. In all, he wrapped up five goals and four assists for the squad.
Ross Delossantos was another first team pick. Delossantos was Cassville's quickest defender and would often times find himself intentionally matched up with the opposing team's best player. Delossantos, a sophomore, led the team from the back end of the field directing traffic and playing tough. Despite playing primarily in the back, Delos-santos tallied one assist.
Last, but definitely not least, was a Cassville player who scored no goals. Anthony Larson, as Cassville's starting goal keeper, kept Cassville's opponents at bay. The senior never allowed more than three goals in a contest except in the 'Cats last game against Duchesne. In that contest he allowed four, but it should be noted the fourth goal did not come until Cassville was a man short due to a red card. Larson recorded six shut-outs on the season and made 106 saves for the Wildcats.
Cassville had three players named to the All-District second team. Matt Angel, Luis Ortega and Matt Frazier were all elected to the squad.
Angel, a sophomore, was one of Cassville's top defensive mid-fielders this season. Ortega, a junior, was an attacking midfielder and finished with four goals and three assists. Frazier, another junior, played in the backfield and provided the Wildcats with some size and physical presence.
The Wildcats had two more teammates who were given honorable mention honors. Both juniors and mid-fielders, Omar Valenzuela and Corey Wilbanks, made the cut.