Boys soccer preview: Eagles have 18 letterwinners

Bluffton’s Luke Young, right, and Lima Temple Christian’s Rylan Ward go after the ball during last year’s district final at Kalida. Young is one of several returning players for the Pirates. (Photo by Kent Tarbox)

It’s now or never for Liberty-Benton’s boys soccer team.
The Eagles have 33 players on their roster and 18 of them are returning lettermen that helped the Eagles post a 7-9-2 overall record that included a 4-3 mark in the North Central Ohio Soccer Association.
Chris Dole, one of 11 seniors on the L-B roster, is back at goalkeeper after earning second-team all-conference honors. Defender Preston August and midfielders Owen Rath and Cameron Schroeder are also returning all-league selections.
Cory-Rawson also has an experienced team with 13 players back. Senior midfielder Isaiah Colvin is the top returning offensive player while sophomore Hunter Bixler returns in goal after netting a spot on the all-NCOSA honorable mention list as a freshman.
Ada coach Jason Okuly will also have a veteran lineup with 16 players back including Ace Gamble, who is back for his fourth season as the team’s goalkeeper.
Riverdale and Upper Sandusky will both be relatively in experienced. The Falcons have 10 letterwinners while the Rams return eight.
No preseason information was submitted by returning NCOSA champion Van Buren.
There are a couple of changes in the NCOSA this season as Old Fort and Tiffin Columbian have dropped out of the league as they will be playing a Sandusky Bay Conference schedule.
Bluffton, meanwhile, will be looking to get back to the regional tournament. The Pirates dropped a 2-0 decision to Mansfield Christian in the regional semifinals.
Coach Steve Smucker begins his fourth year in charge of the program. Tristan Smucker, a senior forward, leads the list of 10 returning letterwinners that helped the Pirates cruise to the Northwest Conference championships. Senior defender Jordan Sieferd, junior forward Luke Young and sophomore defender Matt Daws were also all-conference picks.
In the PCL, Continental is the defending champ. A dozen players are back for the Pirates including first team all-PCL senior defender Christian Keller.
Ottawa-Glandorf was just 5-9-3 a year ago. Don’t expect another down year for the Titans as coach Kyle Metzger has a big senior class and returns 18 letterwinners overall.
No information was available on the teams from Kalida and Miller City.

Ada
HEAD COACH: Jason Okuly (4th year).
2016 RECORD: 7-9-1 overall, 3-4 North Central Ohio Soccer Association, 2-2-1 Northwest Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Ace Gamble, sr., GK; Jon Allen, jr., F; Miguel Jordan, jr., F; Brandan Sheridan, jr., MF; Logan Williams, sr., F; Jacob Okuly, jr., D; Johnathan Rettig, sr., D; Christopher Reyes, jr.; Noah Garmon, jr., D; Noah Pinkney, sr., MF; Nathan Allen, sr., MF; Sam Hibbard, jr., D; William Jolliff, jr., F; Blaine Dearth, sr., MF; Drew Hadley, soph., GK; Isaac Spar, soph., D.
TOP PROSPECTS: Brayan Casiano, sr., MF; Kyle Crouse, soph., D; Nicholas Kamatali, soph., D; Jacob Thaxton, fr., D; Wyatt Rettig, soph., MF; Khyler Stoll, soph., MF; Jacob Poling, fr., F.
NOTABLE: The Bulldogs should be poised for more improvement with 16 returning letterwinners. Williams, Pinkney and Reyes earned all-NCOSA honors last season and Gamble is back for his fourth season in goal.
Bluffton
HEAD COACH: Steve Smucker (4th year).
2016 RECORD: 16-3 overall, 5-0 Northwest Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Braden Conrad, sr., F; Tristan Smucker, sr., F/MF; Noah Fredritz, sr., MF; Zach Basinger, sr., D; Miah Spallinger, sr., D; Jordan Sieferd, sr., D; Jesse Mintel, jr., F; Jackson Steinmetz, jr., MF; Luke Young, jr., F; Matt Daws, soph., D.
TOP PROSPECTS: Not available.
NOTABLE: Bluffton is seeking a return trip to the regional semifinals with 10 returning letterwinners. Tristan Smucker, a first-team all-district and all-NWC selection, leads the list of returnees. Young, Sieferd and Daws were also all-conference picks for the Pirates.

Continental
HEAD COACH: Brian Stegbauer (7th year, 56-41-13).
2016 RECORD: 11-3-4 overall, 3-0-1 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Tyler Brecht, sr., F; Chris Potts, sr., F; Garrett Recker, sr., D; Nick Koenig, sr., D; Christian Keller, sr., D; Bryce Slattman, jr., D; Konnor Okuley, jr., F; Jarret Keck, jr., D; Cole Bowers, jr., MF; Christian Velasquez-Perez, jr., F; Alex Hale, jr., D; Trevor Brecht, soph., D.
TOP PROSPECTS: Justin Becher, sr; Cameron Mason, sr.; Austin Morrison, sr.; Michael Thomas, sr.; Dylan Brown, jr.; Taron Butler, jr.; Isaiah Good, jr.; Konor Okuley, jr.; Noah Becher, soph.; Karson Prowant, soph.; Trevor Rayle, soph.; Noah Bibler, fr.; Aidan Earles, fr.; Curtis Mansfield, fr.; Westin Okuley, fr.; Bryce Recker, fr.; Hayden Ward, fr.; Reed Warnement, fr.
NOTABLE: With a dozen returning letterwinners, Continental is likely favored to repeat in the PCL. Keller is a returning first team all-PCL selection. Three other first teamers graduated last spring.

Cory-Rawson
HEAD COACH: T.J. Routson (2nd year, 4-11).
2016 RECORD: 4-11 overall, 2-5 North Central Ohio Soccer Association.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Andrew Heldman, soph., MF; Jamey Miles, jr., D; Daniel White, sr., MF; Caleb Camper, jr., D; Zach Roebke, sr., MF; Patrick Dearwester, jr., D; Tyler Stoodt, sr., MF/D; Josh Augustine, sr., D; Jacob Brown, jr., MF; Owen Karcher, soph., MF; Hunter Bixler, soph., MF; Isaiah Colvin, sr., MF; Gavin Erford, soph., MF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Luke Bish, soph., MF; Clayton Skulina, fr., GK/D; Izzac Dean, fr., GK; Matt White, fr., MF; Leo Miracle, fr., MF; Brice Rutherford, fr., D; Gage Camper, fr., D; Lance Kisaberth, fr., D.
NOTABLE: Look for Cory-Rawson to make a leap in competitiveness this season. The Hornets have 21 players, including 11 returning letterwinners. Colvin was a second team all-NCOSA selection while Bixler made the league’s honorable mention list as a freshman.

Fort Jennings
HEAD COACH: Greg Luthman (10th year, 98-70-16).
2016 RECORD: 9-8-2 overall, 2-1-1 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Nolan Grote, jr., MF/D; Ian Ricker, jr., MF/F; Aaron Kloeppel, jr., F/MF; Derek Luersman, jr., MF/D; Aaron Sealts, sr., MF; Adam Howbert, sr., MF/F/GK; Nick Fields, jr., MF/F; Cole Horstman, sr., GK/MF; Alex Wieging, jr., D.
TOP PROSPECTS: Troy Sellman, fr., MF/F; Cody Horstman, fr., MF/D/GK; Jack Sellman, fr., MF/F; Jared Liebrecht, fr., D; Eli Zehender, fr., MF; Isaac Schuck, sr., MF/F; Evan Hoersten, fr., D/GK; Eric Wieging, jr., D/MF; Justin Landwehr, fr., MF; Zach Piasecki, jr., D; Adam Noriega, jr., MF/D.
NOTABLE: Fort Jennings has finished second in the PCL three of the past four years. With nine letterwinners, and five returning starters, the Musketeers are going to try and get over the hump in 2017.

Liberty-Benton
HEAD COACH: Aaron Troyer (2nd year).
2016 RECORD: 7-9-2 overall, 4-3 North Central Ohio Soccer Association.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Preston August, sr., D; Gannon Darrach, sr., MF; Seth Deitering, sr., D; Tyler Dillon, sr., D; Chris Dole, sr., GK; Daniel Furiate, sr., D; Zac Kilburn, sr., MF; Rafael Naranjo, sr., MF; Austin Patrick, sr., F; Owen Rath, sr., MF; Brady Shellhammer, sr., MF; Noah Aschemeier, jr., F; Garret Bartel, jr., MF; Lucas Mattingly, jr., F; Cameron Schroeder, jr., MF; Trent Ward, jr., F; Clark August, soph., MF; Noah Caudill, soph., D.
TOP PROSPECTS: None.
NOTABLE: The future is now for Liberty-Benton. Troyer has 18 returning lettermen on his 33-player roster and the Eagles should be one of the team to beat in the NCOSA.

Ottawa-Glandorf
HEAD COACH: Kyle Metzger (3rd year, 17-13-4).
2016 RECORD: 5-9-3 overall, 2-6-1 Western Buckeye League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Harrison Dean, sr., MF/D; Nolan Unterbrink, jr., F/MF; Chad Duling, sr., MF; Tristen Ball, sr., MF/D; Evan Balash, sr., MF; Mike Bowers, sr., F/D; Bryce Schroeder, sr., F/MF; T.J. Oren, sr., D; Joel Ellerbrock, sr., MF/F; Austin Horstman, sr., D; Ben Schaub, sr., D/MF; Ray Orengo, sr., F/MF; Josh Rosengarten, jr., MF/D; Ethan White, jr., F/MF; Zach Balbaugh, sr., MF/D; Drew Kuhlman, jr., F/MF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Drew Sutter, jr., GK; Ryan Schroeder, sr., D/MF: Braden Fortman, jr., D; Connor Niese, jr., MF; Garret Croy, soph., D; Collin Crumrine, jr., D.
NOTABLE: With 17 returning letterwinners look for Ottawa-Glandorf to make a run at the Western Buckeye League title.

Ottoville
HEAD COACH: Eric Gerker (11th year, 113-53-13).
2016 RECORD: 3-13-2 overall, 1-3 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Evan Boecker, sr., F; Connor Fanning, sr., F/MF; Josh Sarka, sr., MF; Troy Warnecke, sr., D/S; Jon Knippen, sr., D/S; Jaden Schnipke, jr., MF; Carson Stoner, jr., MF/F; Conner Wannemacher, jr., F; Michael Burgei, jr., D/S; Dalton Davis, soph., F; Trevor Horstman, soph., D/S; Drew Fisher, soph., MF/D; Joe Miller, soph., MF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Ryan Suever, fr., MF; Grant Kortokrax, fr., D/S; Brice Schroeder, fr., MF; Kaiden Trentman, fr., GK; Ben Horstman, fr., MF; Kyle Manns, fr., MF/F; Caden Edelbrock, fr., MF.
NOTABLE: It was an uncharacteristic season for Ottoville last year. Look for a quick rebound, though with 13 players return including second-team all-PCL selection Drew Fisher. Improving the offensive output will be the key as the Big Green scored just 23 goals last season.

Riverdale
HEAD COACH: Jon Hayfield (17th year, 159-96-32).
2016 RECORD: 6-9-2 overall, 4-2-1 North Central Ohio Soccer Association.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Tyler Bacon, sr., MF/F; Luke Drerup, sr., D; Creed Blakley, jr., D; Dylan Hunt, jr., MF/D; Logan Frey, soph., MF/F; Tyler Hart, soph., MF; Matthew Mason, soph., MF/D; Coby Miller, soph., MF/F; Ethan Shane, soph., GK/MF; Eli Weber, soph., MF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Sammy Thacker, jr., GK/D; Ryder Egbert, soph., D; Brady Theis, soph., MF.
NOTABLE: The Falcons were young last season with nine freshmen. They add 11 freshmen to the nine sophomores with just five upperclassmen on the roster. Senior three-time letterwinners Taylor Bacon and Luke Drerup will be relied on to carry the load. Last year’s top prospect, sophomore Coby Miller, is the team’s leading goal scorer with a team-high nine a year ago.

Upper Sandusky
HEAD COACH: Keith Miller (14th year, 106-102-13).
2016 RECORD: 4-12-1 overall, 2-5 North Central Ohio Soccer Association.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Lupe Landaverde, sr., MF; Anson Hill, soph., GK; Ross Swinehart, soph., MF; Jaidyn Thiel, soph., F; Matt McLane, sr., D; Zach Grafmiller, sr., MF; Quinten Voorhees, jr., D; Gabe Baker, jr., D/MF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Caleb Healea, fr., MF.F; Austin McLane, fr., MF/F; Jack Orians, fr., MF/F; Alex Ayala, soph., D; Wesley Ogden, fr., MF/F; Jacob Herbert, jr., D; Alec Ogg, sr., D/MF: Zach Seifert, sr., MF/F; Micah Harris, soph., MF; Brandon Geisey, soph., GK/D.
NOTABLE: Upper Sandusky will be young. Only Landaverde and Matt McLane are four-year varsity players. Landaverde scored 13 goals with three assists a year ago. Hill, meanwhile recorded 133 saves as he was pressed into service as the team’s goalkeeper as a freshman.



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