Prep soccer teams ready for start of season

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 11, 2008

November is not a good time of year for boys soccer coaches.

Missing players, ineffective lineups and the usual early-season fatigue all combine for a frustrating month. As the 2008-09 season begins in earnest this week – Warren Central, Vicksburg High and St. Aloysius are all scheduled to host games tonight – the teams that take the field will barely resemble the ones competing for playoff spots in January.

“I don’t like not having my football or cross country guys. I can’t get a good practice together,” said Vicksburg coach Jason Bennett, who had a half-dozen players participating in fall sports when practice began last month. “The first part of the season is always what do I have, who’s here from football?”

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Bennett is still missing a few players. Midfielder Patrick Parker and reserve Travis Haas are still with Vicksburg’s football team for at least another week, until it is eliminated from the playoffs. Goal keeper Bowen Woodson is also out for at least one more week after offseason knee surgery.

Vicksburg beat McComb, 2-1, in its opener on Saturday and will host Terry tonight.

At Warren Central, coach Greg Head will get several players back this week after the football team’s season ended on Friday. His challenge will be getting them into shape and finding the best place to put them. WC split its two classic games on Saturday without the football players, which include senior captain Jared Thames, and will host McComb tonight.

“It takes about a full month. The first two or three weeks are experimenting. Not having those four or five starters hurts,” Head said.

Head added that there was a benefit to having some starters missing, however.

“The younger guys get more work when they’re not here, so that helps,” Head said.

St. Aloysius opens its season at home tonight against Crystal Springs and is dealing with a couple of different early-season challenges. St. Al’s coach, Will Vollor, is also an assistant with the school’s football team, and has been trying to shoehorn soccer workouts around his football duties.

Playing smaller schools that have the bulk of their teams, not just a few players, still involved in football also leads to some headaches. Up until Saturday, Vollor had to wait and see whether he would have to cancel tonight’s game, Friday’s game at Wesson, or both because one side or the other didn’t have enough players.

“It’s tough, but everybody’s doing it. Everybody has some problems,” Vollor said, adding that he tries to look at the first month of the season as an exhibition. St. Al’s first division game isn’t until Dec. 9 at St. Andrew’s. “You schedule a bunch of games, cancel some, the tournaments are laid back. You go and you mix it up. If you lose, you lose, but you’re playing.”


Contact Ernest Bowker at