Center Grove boys soccer coach Jameson McLaughlin gets a kick out of polls, he really does.
Especially polls that bill the Trojans the No. 1 high school team in the nation — as does MaxPreps.com in its latest rankings. McLaughlin, in his first season at Center Grove, finds the poll highly flattering, a little troubling and not entirely reflective of reality.
Although he is confident the Trojans can stack up with the best, he doesn’t trumpet them as No. 1 in the nation, especially when an entirely different poll doesn’t even rate them tops in the state.
“It gives me a little trepidation, because I don’t want (the players) to look at that and think they’ve made it, because that’s the tendency that kids have at that age,” McLaughlin said. “So I quickly will bring out the Indiana coaches poll, where we’re No. 5.”
Center Grove athletics director Jon Zwitt also has a dim view of the MaxPreps rankings and, like McLaughlin, regards the Indiana Soccer Coaches Association poll a much more accurate barometer.
That’s because the coaches polls is voted on, well, by coaches, who actually see the teams play, share information and watch film.
By contrast, the MaxPreps rankings are determined by a computer program that only factors in game results. And it can only factor in results that are reported to the website. Moreover, not all teams statewide, let alone nationwide, regularly report results.
Or, as MaxPreps cautions out on its Website: “Other factors that will affect the rankings are times when MaxPreps has incomplete or inaccurate information.”
Interestingly, the top 10 teams in the MaxPreps rankings are either from Indiana, Kentucky or North Carolina. And of the four Indiana teams, one — Jennings County — isn’t ranked in the coaches poll.
But regardless of the national poll’s accuracy, the Trojans are pleased to be in the spotlight.
“I take it with a little grain of salt,” McLaughlin said. “I like that our program gets that kind of recognition, because they’re a great team and they deserve recognition; but I don’t want them to get a big head by any stretch of the imagination.”
Ranked No. 5 in the Class 2A state poll, the Trojans are 7-0-1. They have victories against Bloomington North, Terre Haute South, Columbus East, Lawrence Central, No. 6 Carmel, Roncalli and Martinsville. The only blemish is a 1-1 tie against unranked Perry Meridian.
“We’re not where I think we can be. We just need to get better every game,” McLaughlin said. “Honestly, the thing I say to them almost every day is, ‘Let’s just get better than we were the day before,’ so hopefully we can reach our ultimate goal.”
That would be winning the state championship, an objective the Trojans have never accomplished. They have won 10 straight sectionals and four straight regionals but are still looking for their first semistate crown.
With 13 seniors from last year’s 20-2 team, including All-State performer Hayden Gorall and standouts Kyle Parry, Conrad Bomber, Nathan Silva, Brian Wheeler and Jesse Sherman, among others, McLaughlin is confident the Trojans can contend for the state title, regardless of where they reside in any poll.
“I don’t want them to peak in August or the middle of September,” he said. “I want them to peak in mid- to late-October. I just want them to get better. This team has the potential to do something special.
“When we’re all healthy and they’re playing the best that they can play, I would put our team up against any other team out there.”
MaxPreps Boys Soccer Poll
3;Middle Creek (North Carolina)
8;South Oldham (Kentucky)
9;Hunt (North Carolina)
10;Clinton (North Carolina)
INDIANA SOCCER COACHES ASSOCIATION POLL
4;Ft. Wayne Canterbury
10;Ft. Wayne Carroll
ABOUT THE MAXPREPS POLLS
MaxPreps rankings are determined by a computer program based on scores reported from across the country. It does not use input from coaches or media.
The computer rankings, according to the Website, “utilizes the huge number of game results stored in the MaxPreps database. Generally, the more a team wins the higher the ranking, but the system takes into account quality wins (against other highly ranked opponents) and strength of schedule.”
Other factors that impact rankings are when incomplete or inaccurate information is reported to MaxPreps.