By DAVE HANNEMAN
Kevin Shenise says Findlay High’s boys soccer team will have a “next man up” philosophy this season.
That term could apply to the coaching staff as well as the roster.
Continuity is a cornerstone of any successful venture, whether it’s business, politics or athletics. And Shenise epitomizes that concept as only the third head coach of a program Albert Laux (413-159-59) brought to varsity status in 1976 and Bill Geaman (139-48-25) continued through last season.
“I’m honored to be only the third (boys soccer) coach in school history, and really, really honored to have worked with the previous two coaches,” said Shenise, whose own contributions to the FHS program were recognized when he was named 2015 Division I Assistant Coach of the Year by the Northwest Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association.
“I was a freshman coach and JV coach under Albert and a varsity assistant under Bill. Both were great mentors for me. Both instilled in me a good understanding of how things work, how to handle a program, how to run a program.
“Findlay has always been a class program in the state, and that’s a direction I want to continue.”
Findlay will be missing a number of key components from a team that finished second (5-2-0) in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference, went 10-7-2 overall and reached the Division I district final before a season-ending 3-0 tournament loss to Anthony Wayne.
Three of last year’s top four scorers graduated, including first-team all-TRAC midfielders Taylor Miles (20 goals, 11 assists, 51 points) and Pace Thomas (11-2–24) and honorable mention all-leaguer Duncan McMath. Second-team all-TRAC defender Aidan Detterman was also one of 10 seniors on last year’s roster.
Traditionally, though, Findlay fields teams well-stocked with upperclassmen and veterans.
“We lost an all-state player in Pace Thomas and an all-league player in Taylor Miles who accounted for the majority of our offense last year,” Shenise said.
“We have to replace those guys. We have to find ways to score, but I think we have guys capable of doing it. We have that next man up mentality and we have some seniors who will step into those roles.
“It’s their job, their responsibility and I’m putting pressure on them to come through. We don’t care who gets the goals, but we have to get them.
“The guys are competing for starting positions and playing time. We’ll find out a lot from our scrimmages, but what I wanted all along was a competitive group that is going to work, we have that.”
Jacob Gangle returns as Findlay’s top offensive threat. A year ago, the junior midfielder was third on the team with six goals, eight assists and 20 total points.
Shenise will also be counting on senior lettermen Ryan Montooth, Logan Lause, Trent Land (3 goals), Mitchell Meyer (1 goal, 4 assists) and Andrew McCormick (1 goal, 2 assists) to create offensive opportunities, along with junior midfielders Aidan Copeland and Michael Copeland and sophomore forward Carson Dale.
A stingy defense has been a trademark of Findlay teams and Shenise, who was a defender in college at West Virginia, doesn’t see that changing any time soon.
“Albert instilled it in me and Bill always stressed the need for a strong defense,” Shenise said.
“You hear it all the time from NFL players and pro athletes saying that defense wins championships. I know it’s a cliche, but it does. It’s simple: if we don’t give up a bunch (of goals) then we don’t need to score a bunch (of goals) either.
“We want to put up a strong defense, and I think we can with the guys we have coming back.”
Spearheading Findlay’s defense will be seniors Brady Shenise, Devin Snyder and Kevin Kuhn. Shenise earned second-team all-TRAC honors last season and Snyder was honorable mention all-league. Kuhn returns in goal after making 83 total saves a year ago.
Kevin Shenise likes Kuhn’s toughness in goal.
“He came to camp last year and decided, around the middle of June, the first of July, that he wanted to play goalie,” Kevin Shenise said.
“He’d played it once, for maybe half a season, when he was in eighth grade. But he thought there was an opening there, and that it was something he might want to do. That’s certainly one of those positions where you need someone who is committed to that position. He put his mind to it, he worked hard at it and he ended up starting every game for us last year.”
Findlay opens the 2018 season with three straight home matches — nonleague games with BG on Aug. 17 and Massillon Jackson on Aug. 25, then a TRAC matchup with Toledo St. John’s on Aug. 28.
“I think they are the team to beat in the TRAC and by game three we’re going to find out if they are or not,” Shenise said.