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BOYS' PREP SOCCER: LaRue County returns almost intact for Year 2 (08/17)

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By Nathaniel Bryan

 

By NATHANIEL BRYAN nbryan@thenewsenterprise.com HODGENVILLE — With nine starters back from last year’s team which went 5-3-1 in its first season of boys’ varsity soccer, the LaRue County Hawks are looking for bigger and better things in Year 2. However, the Hawks did graduate track athlete Curtis Puryear as well as 10-goal scorer Marco Valle, a Honduran-born attacker who’s trying to walk on at the University of Kentucky. “They’ll be sorely missed. They were hard workers and good leaders,” said fifth-year LaRue County coach Chuck Holloway, who also helped launch the girls’ soccer program at Elizabethtown. Softening the blow of Puryear’s and Valle’s departures is the return of all four starters in the Hawks’ diamond defense. “In their stature and size, they don’t match up with many other teams. But as far as heart and effort, they get after it,” said Holloway, who’s assisted by Derek Bell. At the top of the diamond is senior stopper Logan Hull. In the back of the diamond is sweeper J.T. Thompson. “Both Logan and J.T. have been playing for me fore five years now, so they’re like assistant coaches on the field,” Holloway said. “Logan’s very quick and very tough. Once I assign him a player, that opposing player gets frustrated. He sticks to them very tough. And J.T. is tough as nails. He’s a strong leader with a strong work ethic. He assigns the players. His teammates listen to him and they respect him.” To their right is sophomore Brent Gozzard. On their left is junior Patrick Thompson, J.T.’s younger brother. Sophomore Bo Haun started in goal last year, but he could split time this season as junior Alex Wood, who also runs cross country, has come out for the team for the first time. “Bo’s also an extremely good midfielder, so we’ll take advantage of both their skills to try to make the team stronger,” Holloway said. Junior Todd Gozzard, Brent’s older brother, could start at the right wing. On the opposite flank, Holloway plans on using newcomer brothers Brandon Dyson, a junior, and Bradley Dyson, a senior. Both brothers compete on the track and field team. “Todd’s very fast and a very strong crosser. He adapts quickly on the field,” Holloway said. “Brandon has improved tremendously and Bradley’s a very smart, very skilled player. They’re interchangeable and they’re very coachable. They’ve been a pleasant surprise” In the central part of the midfield is senior attacker Justin Chelf and junior defender Chris Poteet, a newcomer, and sophomore defender Cheyenne Perkins. “Justin’s a good field leader. He’s very cautious. He sees the field clearly. He makes accurate passes, chips and crosses, whatever’s necessary. He’s very unselfish,” Holloway said of Chelf, who averaged a point a game with his six-assists (team high) and three goals. “Cheyenne has emerged because he’s a good passer and a quick thinker. And although Chris didn’t play last year, he’s very tenacious. Once he locks onto something, he’s hard to shake. He’s almost like a bulldog in that regard.” Sophomore Dylan White, who started last season at left wing, and senior Tristen Hines, one of the area’s top lightweight wrestlers, will be the attackers. “They know each other very well and they know where other is on the field. They’ve also played with each other many hours off the field,” Holloway said. Holloway also plans on using sophomore defender/midfielder Dillon Walker, sophomore defenders Michael Huff, Josh Jones and Andrew Skaggs, freshman attackers James Crosswhite and Shawn Hull and freshman defender Dakota White. LaRue County, which dropped a 2-1 decision to Taylor County in one of the Hawks’ two allowed scrimmages, faces the host Cardinals in their season opener Monday. Later on in the season, the Hawks will take on area rivals Central Hardin, North Hardin and Meade County – a trio of Class 6-A football schools compared to the 4-A Hawks – for the first time. “They’re excited. They want the competition. They want to see how they stack up,” said Holloway, whose Hawks beat Fort Knox last season in their first-ever game against another area program. “We’re still a young program, but they’ve worked extra hard in the weight room and conditioning, so they’re ready to see how they do against the big guys.” Nathaniel Bryan can be reached at 505-1758