The MHSAA boys soccer season kicks off today as several area teams will take to the fields for their first matches of the fall.
St. Clair is set to host Cardinal Mooney, North Branch is heading to Clio, Almont will play New Haven, and Croswell-Lexington will travel to Port Huron High – and that’s only the beginning.
On Thursday, Port Huron Northern will host Marysville, a friendly local rivalry that Vikings head coach Scott Parker said he’s looking forward to.
“We like to use [Northern] as a measuring stick, plus it’s a crosstown rival,” Parker said. “A lot of these boys play together on [travel teams] so it’s a chance for them for them to go against some of their club teammates so there’s that friendly rivalry there.”
Parker will lead the varsity Vikings as head coach for the first time this year, although he’s been a familiar face within the program as he’s coached the JV team since 2013. He will be moving up with a lot of the players he coached as underclassmen, which he said he’s excited about.
“That was one of the main reasons I applied for the position. I had the opportunity to lead them at that level,” he said. “We had some success at the JV level win-loss-wise, and the boys competed hard. Now to see them in their senior and junior years is going to be a lot of fun.”
A few of those key seniors will be Anthony Koza, Wyatt Oles, Carter stevens, and Tyler Ross.
The Huskies will boast a much younger squad this year after graduating 15 seniors, but Ryan Faulkner, Dimitri Kasparian, and Carter Dietrich will all be back to lead the team.
“We have a younger team this year after graduating 15 seniors, but I think we'll still be competitive locally and in the MAC-Blue,” head coach Bryan Becker said. “Even though the group is younger than a year ago, they bring a good deal of experience and are building team chemistry.”
The game is set to start at 6 p.m. at Northern.
In the BWAC, Imlay City returns as defending league champion along with two consecutive district titles. Not to mention, the Spartans are brining back a majority of their starters, including Luis Barragan, Edson Zepeda, Edwin Galindo, Sergio Galeana, Juan Zepeda, Christopher Galeana, and José Salcedo.
Many of these boys are entering their final season, and after playing together for the last several years, they’ve got great team chemistry and even bigger goals.
“They’ve already gotten to really good heights with the regional final [in 2020], but they want that last step go to state. They know what they want, they know they can do it, but they have to earn it,” head coach Luis Hernandez said. “They’re down to earth knowing they’ve got to work really hard to get to where they want to go. They’re pretty conscious about where they’re sitting and what they have to do.”
Richmond has always battled with Imlay City within league play and last year was no different. The Blue Devils finished second in the BWAC at 10-2 with their only two losses being to the Spartans, and North Branch and Cros-Lex tied at 7-5, falling to Imlay City and Richmond and splitting the two games against each other.
All of these teams return key pieces from last year’s rosters, and even Armada which finished fifth at 3-8-1 is excited and looking to improve with all of its starters coming back, according to head coach Neal Todd.
The Blue Devils return two all-state players, Drew Matyunas and Jacksen Gil; the Broncos bring back Landen Swoish who holds the school record for number of goals scored in a season; and the Pioneers reload with a lot of senior leaders, including Reid Stoyan, James Witham, Robert Loomis, Zack Kroetsch, Colby Irwin, Sam Rickerman, Noah Hinojosa, and Logan Allen.
“These seniors will lead a team that values hard work, toughness, and competition,” Cros-Lex head coach Ken Nelson said. “They will have to be these things because our schedule is tougher than in years past.”
There’s no doubt the BWAC should boast some exciting matches this season and fans won’t have to wait long as conference play begins on Monday.