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By JOSH CLAYWELL firstname.lastname@example.org
FORT KNOX — A familiar face is back on post this fall, but this time he’s coaching the Fort Knox High School boys’ soccer team.
Alex Molina, who went 1-26-3 in 2004-05 as Fort Knox’s girls’ coach, replaces Joe Padilla.
“I’ve been around here. I’ve been on and off the job,” said Molina, who is assisted by Jose Huertas. “I’ve been teaching at Knox for about five years now. Before I left three years ago, I helped the girls’ team. Right now I hope I’m here to stay. I want to develop this program the way it’s supposed to be developed.”
Fort Knox is coming off a 4-12-1 season in which it went winless against 5th Region (0-10) and 10th District (0-6) competition.
The Eagles were outscored, 74-26, the most goals allowed in the 12-team region.
“We need to win some games,” said Molina, who also was the first coach in John Hardin history in 2001 and went 20-13-1 in two stints with the Bulldogs. “With the numbers we’ve got now, it’s possible. Our goal is to win games and do something good in the district. We want to get back in the competition. It’s long overdue.”
Molina said he has 29 players out for the team. Sixteen of those will play varsity.
“The numbers are growing,” Molina said. “We have the players. We have a good set of varsity players now.”
And it starts with the senior class.
Back from last year are seniors Chris DeLeon (sweeper) and Charlie Davidson (striker), who notched a hat trick in a 5-2 scrimmage win over North Bullitt.
“Chris is one of the best sweepers we have right now,” Molina said. “We’re still working with Charlie at striker. He can score goals, but we’re getting there. Slowly but surely, we’re getting there.”
Other seniors include Zacc Holman, who is out until the middle of the season with an ACL injury, and Robert Gray, who hasn’t yet been cleared by the KHSAA.
Junior Dustin Nangle will start in goal in place of Holman.
“We’re working hard with Dustin,” Molina said. “He played recreational league before and nobody took the time to work with him to show him what he needs to do in the goal and how to work the angles. We work an hour each practice just with the keepers, and he’s coming along pretty good.”
Until Holman returns, Nangle is the only keeper on the roster.
“Hopefully we can get somebody else in there. At Fort Knox, you never know when you get someone transferred in,” Molina said.
Senior Kyle Spadie, junior Robert Barasa and sophomores Chris Whitaker, Michael Johnson and Scott Heiderman will man the midfield. Whitaker was a 2007 second-team All-Area selection.
“Kyle is a first-year player and speed is one of the best things he’s got. Now that’s he playing organized soccer, he’s been a surprise. He brings a lot of speed. He looks like he’s played the game before. He goes with the ball and he crosses the ball pretty good. He’s very involving,” Molina said.
“Chris is a very solid player in the middle. He’s very dependable and proficient. He’s learning how to see the field and open the field. Michael is a small kid, but he’s a very, very good ball controller and he’s very smart in the field. Between him and Chris, they’re going to make things happen in the middle.”
Heiderman and Barasa are vying for time at outside midfielder.
“Those two are fighting for that position right now,” Molina said. “Right now they both look neck and neck with each other.”
Joining DeLeon on defense will be a trio of sophomores in stopper Pedro Marrero, right-side stopper Stefan Mitchell and left-side stopper Phillip Warden.
“All four of them look solid,” Molina said. “They work exactly the way I want to them to work.”
Fort Knox opens the season at Louisville Fern Creek at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Josh Claywell can be reached at 505-1752