September 09, 2008


Rockets missing old familiar face


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Cincinnatus goalie William Rheinheimer grabs the ball away from Eric Ralyea of McGraw during last season’s CCL game. Both players are returning for their teams this year.

Staff Writer
The biggest change among the area’s Central Counties League boys’ soccer teams this season will be Mike Skeele’s absence from the DeRuyter Central sidelines.
In his 21 years as the Rockets’ head coach (after six years at the modified level), Skeele’s squads compiled a 213-158-25 record with one sectional championship and four league titles. Former player Kris Millett (1986-89, CCL all-star in ‘88 as a sweeper and ‘89 at center midfield) takes over for his old coach. Leigh Wright is back at Cincinnatus, and Cory Smith returns at McGraw.
Coach: Leigh Wright
The Red Lions won the league championship last season with a 6-0-2 league and wound up 13-2-2 overall after a first-round loss in the Class D sectionals. Graduation, however, hit the team hard, as 11 of last year’s 17 players left the high school ranks in June.
Included were six first-team all-leaguers in striker Jherrett Maroney (17 goals and 10 assists), fullback Cameron Blanchard (62 tackles and 119 steals), halfback-fullback Casey Stith, halfback-striker Greg Monroe, halfback Mark Cobb and fullback Mark Wyns. Honorable mentions who graduated were halfback Kyle Blanchard (12 goals and four assists) and fullback-halfback Lenny Slocum.
“We lost nine starters, our complete midfield and defense,” Wright said, “in my opinion the two best players in the league last year at their positions in Cameron Blanchard and Jherrett Maroney, a solid goal-scorer in Kyle Blanchard and a big midfield presence with Mark Cobb and Mark Wyns.”
Heading up the returnees are junior goalkeeper/wing William (Wolfy) Rheinheimer, who made 63 saves and allowed 13 goals last season, and sophomore striker Jake Stone (7 goals and 12 assists), both second-teamers last fall. Also back are senior co-captains Zack Halstrom (center halfback) and Greg Monroe (striker/goalkeeper, 7 goals and seven assists in ‘07), plus sophomore halfback-fullback Shondel Wright (the coach’s son). Another potential returnee, junior Jessie Hotaling, who played fullback last year, is out for the season with an injury.
This season’s newcomers are senior striker Alan Maricle, junior fullbacks Les Weber and Josh Byron, sophomores Jake Manley (fullback), Manny Uribe (outside halfback) and Neal Standish (fullback) and freshmen Troy Halstrom (utility, Zack’s brother), Jason Lindley (outside halfback/striker), Will Loomis (outside halfback/fullback), Joe Peri (fullback/striker) and Nick Constantino (striker/halfback).
“The keys to our success will be to stay healthy, continue to work on the little things and work together as a unit. We also need to play each game as it comes and not look down the road. We want to continue to get better, and are hoping not to drop too much from last year’s successful season.
“I think the whole league will be down some, which makes for an interesting season. Out of all of the seven seasons I’ve been coaching varsity soccer, this is the first time that I can truly say that this league is a mystery at the beginning of the year. Only time will tell who will be on top at the end of the season”
Coach: Kris Millett
Millett inherits a squad that returns 16 players after going 5-2-1 in the league (second) and 7-9-1 overall a year ago after a first-round class D sectional loss.
Three first-teamers - goalkeeper Dustin McClure, defender Kyle Vadala and forward Nick Brown - were lost, as were honorable mentions Alex Fox (defense), Erik Skeele (forward, Mike’s son) and Brandon Meacham (midfield).
Back are seniors Brandon Chapman (midfield), Mike Damianos (forward), Ethan Grime (forward), John Haggard (midfield), Mike Harris (defense), Dan Raymond (goalkeeper), Chris Roodenburg (forward), Matt Stevens (defense, team captain), and Ryan Sutherland (midfield), juniors Ryan Ellis (midfield), Eric Fox (midfield), Kyle Galloway (midfield) and Caleb Lidell (midfield) and sophomore Aaron White (midfield).
The rookies are sophomores Alan Cizenski (forward), John Conklyn (defense), Ryan Coveny (midfield), Bill Haws (midfield), Brett Vosburg (defense), Steven Wilcox (forward) and Alex Yumin (midfield) and freshmen Jacob Cirbus (goalkeeper) and Thomas Moade (midfield).
“We have a large group of seniors who should be major contributors,” Millett said. “I look forward to the development of the group from game to game. The players have worked hard in pre-season and I expect continued growth throughout the season.
“As a new coach, I’m not sure what to expect from the league this year. Our success will be based on our senior leadership. I’d like to thank Mike Skeele, and I hope he enjoys watching the team from a different vantage point this year. I’m sure it will be difficult.”
Coach: Cory Smith
Senior goalkeeper Josh Shepard is the lone first-teamer back from an Eagles team that was fourth in the league at 3-4-1 and 6-12-1 overall after a first-round loss in D sectionals. Senior forward-midfielder Eric Ralyea was an all-league honorable mention last fall.
Other veterans are senior midfielder Alan Smith, juniors Joey Steinhoff (midfield), Danny Kennedy (defense) and Cody Brown (midfield) and sophomore Alex Smith (midfield; the coach’s son and no relation to Alan). Sophomore Chris Moffitt was to return, but will be sidelined for the season by a knee injury.
Senior forward Brad MacLean was the lone first-teamer to graduate, as did honorable-mention defenders Ethan Phelps and Tyler Stiles and forward-midfielder Anthony Powell.
New to the varsity level are senior defender Randy Thibeault, juniors Chris Torres (midfield), Vitaliy Levitskiy (defense), Thomas Frost (midfield) and Justin Dimorier (midfield) and freshmen Wyatt Buerkle (forward) and Matt Kenyon (defense).
“We lost a lot of experience from last year,” coach Smith said. “This team has been working very hard in pre-season and seems to be getting along very well with each other. If the guys are able to step up and play to their potential, we can become a team getting into the thick of things, in hoping to win the CCL again. I think all of the teams will have a good chance of winning the league this season.
“Having Josh in goal again will be a plus; he should be a good anchor for our defense, which will be young, but the kids have been learning and stepping up to do the job. We gave up a lot of our scoring to graduation, with Eric Ralyea the top returning scorer with four goals. Chris Moffitt will be missed, as he was a strong presence on defense last year. The key for us will be how quickly the new players step up and play to their potential.”