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-way SOC boys soccer spat

North Medford figures to join '98 tri-champs in hunt for district title

North Medford High boys soccer coach Rich Garcia lost nine seniors to graduation last year.

— — — SOC Boys Soccer — Coaches poll

— —

1, South Medford — (4) 48 — 2, North Medford (1) 47 — 3, Ashland (1) 40 — 4, Klamath Union (1) 35 — 5, Grants Pass (1) 29 — 6, Roseburg 19 — 7, Crater 15 — 8, Eagle Point 7

First place votes in parenthesis — —

That's the bad news for the Black Tornado.

The good news is that Garcia says he has one of his best crops of young players, and more team depth than he's had in several years.

The Black Tornado will rely on three seniors for leadership as the youngsters in the program grow up on the field and develop in game action.

We didn't have anything close to this kind of depth last year, says Garcia. I feel confident about the young kids coming up.

We have three sophomores that are varsity players. They won't start, but they will play a lot in games.

North figures battle Ashland, Grants Pass and South Medford for the Southern Oregon Conference title.

The Tornado North begins its SOC slate Tuesday at home against Klamath Union. Grants Pass will be at Crater in the other conference opener.

The leader of North Medford's defense will be senior goalkeeper Chris Barringer.

The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Barringer uses his height and long arms to get to balls and reject shots many goalkeepers can't reach just because of lack of wingspan, Garcia says.

He's tough in there, says Garcia. And he has the quickness and athletic ability to make plays. I think he's the favorite to be Goalkeeper of the Year in this conference.

North Medford will also rely on fullback Danny Ferris at the front of its defense and forward Johnny Whitaker, who led the Black Tornado in scoring last season as a junior, will be its primary scoring threat.

But Garcia has plenty of other weapons. Junior midfielder Scott Jolly and junior outside halfback Dominic Crenshaw are both talented players.

Crenshaw is expected to help fill the scoring void left with the graduation of seniors Jeff Zimmer and Chris Endrikat.

Other North Medford players to watch in 1999 are junior midfielder Eder Salvador, junior forward Ben Barringer, junior sweeper Josh Grace, midfielder Aaryn Abbott and four sophomores (Dan Torrey, Kedric Charlton, Ben Clark Sam Jackson).

We're a little inexperienced this year, but I don't think it will hurt us that much because we have so much team depth and talent, says Garcia. I see us right in there with a chance to win the league.

In 1998, Ashland, Grants Pass and South Medford tied for the SOC title, with 6-1 records, and North Medford was a game behind at 4-2, after losing a triple-overtime shootout to Ashland in the final game of the regular season.

I think Ashland will be just as good this year, and South Medford has a lot of talent returning, says Garcia. It comes down to who gets it done when the teams play each other. This is the most balanced league we've had.

South Medford coach Dave Potter agrees.

It will be real tight competition again, says Potter. That is the overriding atmosphere in the league this this year. The improvement in the conference and the tough competition are the most interesting aspects this year.

Potter has nine returning starters ready to pursue another SOC title. The Panthers have won six of the last seven SOC championships, including their share of the title last year.

South Medford continued on in league playoffs to gain the No. — spot out of the Southern Oregon Conference in the state playoffs.

South Medford's returning starters include senior midfielders Bryce Majors, Damian Rasmussen, Ethan Wallenberg, and Kevin Miller.

Also back are sophomore Pat Lower, junior defensive specialists Craig Tomlins and Corey Parks, junior Josh Neville and senior Ben Buchta.

The Panthers are getting senior Chris Campbell back after he missed the 1998 season due to an injury.

Kyle Hadley, a junior, will be the Panthers' goalkeeper.

Ashland's Eisa Tiaa Tou Tou says the Grizzlies should be even better in his second year as head coach.

Returning starters are senior sweeper Zack Patoki, senior forward Eric Sharp, senior midfielders Trevor Streng, Dennis Kinard and Dustin Waserman, senior stopper Will Dolan and senior fullback Mike McNamara.

Other important returning players are junior forward Gus Hart, striker Scott Deaver and left wing Sam McMillan.

Klamath Union coach Gerrit DeGroot has 14 returning players from his 1998 team that produced a 5-6-1 record.

Leading the returning starters for the Pelicans is junior Alex Casey, a first-team Southern Oregon Conference all-star two years ago, who did not play last season due to an injury.

Forward Phil Card was a second-team SOC all-star last season. Other players expected to play major time for the Pelicans are senior goalkeeper Daniel Gailis and senior Ryan Cornelison, juniors Justin Fay, Andrew Zaiger and Robert Fridinger, sophomores Travis Baker, Luis Garcia, Adam Wendt and Phil VanBuren.

We're a young club, but we have players with a lot of varsity experience, says DeGroot. Our conference will be a little down this year. However, South Medford and North Medford will both be very tough.

Grants Pass will field a young team with only two returning starters. They are midfielder Ian Erikson goalkeeper Matt Lamont and right fullback Alane Garibay.

Grants Pass coach Scott Gottula says fullback Alan Garibay and senior forwards Jason Knight and Aaron Kinyon are also important returning players.

The big key for us is to find out who we are and gain some kind of identity, says Gottula. Once we determine that, we can start working on it.