Underclassmen on the 2015 Center Grove High School boys soccer team have had eight months to hear about how this would be a rebuilding season.
Midfielder Conner Campbell, now a senior, isn’t convinced it will be.
“We had a very good junior varsity team last year,” Campbell said. “Having so much experience on last year’s team, those guys couldn’t show what they could do.
“I think we’re going to be a solid defensive team and have a solid midfield, too. But we did lose a lot of attackers.”
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Thirteen seniors who accounted for 70 of the Trojans’ 82 goals while propelling the program to a Class 2A state championship — the first Johnson County soccer team (girls or boys) to win a title — have graduated.
But if success does in fact breed success, Center Grove, a 14-time regional champion (second-most of all boys programs in Indiana) and semistate qualifier each of the past five seasons, isn’t about to take a step back when it comes to expectations.
After leading his alma mater to a 20-2-1 record in his debut season as head coach, Jameson McLaughlin knows new talents will emerge as the regular season progresses.
No longer is it a matter of if.
“I still have pretty much the same expectations. We certainly won’t have 10 seniors starting and the first guy off the bench be a senior like last season,” McLaughlin said. “But it’s what I like about high school sports. Every year you have a different team.
“We will be younger in some areas, but want to be peaking at the end of the season.”
Campbell provided three goals and three assists a year ago. Another senior midfielder, Jared Wilkerson, returns after scoring three goals to go along with two assists.
Also back is senior midfielder Griffin Smith, who finished last season with two goals and two assists.
Smith said he expects another of last season’s junior varsity players, sophomore forward Luke Boha, to begin making a name for himself at the varsity level.
Senior defender Gus Caito, junior mid Ben Derosa and junior goalkeeper Jacob Cooley also are prepared to contribute.
Preseason team practices begin Aug. 1 for boys soccer programs throughout Indiana.
Center Grove’s season-opener is Aug. 16 at Bloomington North.
Campbell and Smith, who struck up a friendship in the fifth grade while playing for the same travel basketball team, are expected to take on significant leadership roles in their final months of high school soccer.
Each said he thinks he could be utilized more as an attacker on offense this season.
Center Grove’s slogan for the upcoming season is “Road to Repeat,” which the Trojans’ returning players have taken to heart.
Last season, while an amazing journey that ended in the rain Halloween night after a 4-0 victory against Lafayette Harrison in the Class 2A final at IUPUI, is history.
“I understand losing 13 seniors is big,” Smith said. “But the people we have are capable of filling in for those people we lost.”