'Cats get fired up for 2009 season

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Five seniors will return this year to lead the Wildcats through a potentially tough season in a competitive district.

Last year, the Wildcats finished the season with a 17-7 record after a 2007 campaign that saw the squad finish fourth in the state.

This time around, Coach Brian Wilbanks and Assistant Coach Jonathan Winslow are hoping their veteran players will be able to pull a young team together and bring the 'Cats closer to another shot at the district title and a trip to the state play-offs.

"This will be the youngest Cassville team in a number of years," said Coach Wilbanks. "There is a lot of potential that will have to be developed through experience. Our midfield is strong, but we have made a lot of adjustments both defensively and offensively."

Part of the cause for modifications is the loss of All-State second team forward Uziel Franco, who graduated last spring with school records for most goals scored in a game, season and career.

The team will also be making up for the loss of All-District dynamos Luis Ortega and Ross Delosantos, leaving holes to fill from front to back.

Seniors Matt Angel, Justin Mills, Jesus Rivera, Bryan Schroeder and Caleb Wilbanks are expected to emerge as team leaders in starting positions.

The All-District duo of Angel and Schroeder are expected to play at midfield along with Rivera, while Wilbanks, who earned All-District honorable mention last year, will share the role of defender with Mills.

Additionally, seniors Josh Dyer, who will be at the goalkeeper position, and Colby Reavis, who will play at midfield, are returning, along with juniors B.J. McGuffey and Jeff Munday, who are expected to play at midfield and goalkeeper respectively.

While there are several coming back with experience, a number of underclassmen have shown great potential in the preseason as well. Sophomores Garrett Barnes, Austin Deffenbaugh and Jesus Zermeno could be seeing some serious action, as could freshman Levi Pueppke.

The Wildcats will have much work ahead if they are to rise to the challenge and claim a top position in a broad district that encompasses nine teams, any of which could "win it all," according to Coach Wilbanks.

"We will most likely be battling for third or fourth place," said Coach Wilbanks. "Monett and Bolivar will be returning the highest volume of talented players, but there will be no weak teams this year and every game will be a battle."

The Wildcats are scheduled to open their season in an away game at Neosho set to start at 5 p.m. Cassville's first home game will be held on Sept. 3 against Branson.

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