Community School boys’ soccer coach Richard Whitelaw will coach his 400th varsity game when the Cutthroats visit Wood River High School Sept. 6 in the season’s only meeting of the two local schools.
But 23rd-year coach Whitelaw is more concerned with finalizing his 2014 varsity and junior varsity squads at the Sun Valley school.
That will happen after the Cutthroat varsity opens its 16-game fall campaign Friday and Saturday, Aug. 22-23 with back-to-back home games against the McCall-Donnelly Vandals. Game times at Sagewillow’s Browning Field are 6 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday.
Whitelaw said, “We’re currently working on a style of play and trying to find the right team formation.
“Obviously with the speed of 25-goal scorer Jay Fitzgerald and Johnny Blackburn (9 goals) up front and strong creative midfield support, we should be solid going forward. Keeping defensive clean sheets will be crucial.
“We’re looking forward to the match-ups with Wood River and Burley as it is good to test yourselves against stronger opposition.”
The Cutthroats competed last Saturday in a 10-team jamboree at Twin Falls, losing by 3-1 and 1-0 margins to 4A Canyon Ridge and Twin Falls. “Great outing, though,” the coach said. “I learned a lot.”
Offensively, the Cutthroats have improved the last three seasons with 42 goals in 19 games during the Sun Valley school’s State 3A consolation trophy season of 2011, the 51 goals in 18 games of 2012, and last year’s 69 goals in 22 games.
They have four straight winning campaigns including last fall’s 14-6-2 season featuring a third-place finish in the 3A district tourney. The Cutthroats nearly upset eventual champ Gooding in the first game of the state tournament, but the Senators prevailed 2-1.
The highly competitive High Desert Soccer Conference gets just two berths this year to the State 3A tournament, compared to three last fall.
Gooding (14-1-2 last year, 28-2-4 two years) has won two consecutive state titles and three in five years. Wendell (13-4-1) won the State 3A consolation title in both 2012 and 2013.
Five different schools have captured HDSC tournament boys’ titles in seven years starting with the Community School in 2007. Wendell prevailed in 2008 and 2010, Bliss in 2009, Filer 2011 and Gooding by identical 4-2 scores the last two years over Wendell.
Whitelaw said, “We have a strong squad this season losing only Reed Roudabush and Bobby Corker from last year. Sixteen players on the 2013 state tournament squad are returning and we have strong senior and junior classes.
“Players are now all older and stronger, and hopefully watched plenty of World Cup action to get them excited.”
He added, “Unfortunately Gooding and Wendell will be just as strong. Both their squads only lost two players, too. We will have to knock one of them off in districts to advance to state. Buhl will be in the running again. We always have close games with them.
“It’s a tough job ahead. Let’s see what we’re made of. No doubt we are ready for the challenge.”
Head coach—Richard Whitelaw (23rd year, 243-115-36 record).
Assistant coach/junior varsity head coach—Craig Maxwell.
Seniors, 12th grade (10)—Payton Anderson, Perry Boyle, Roger Figge, Trenor Gould, goalkeeper Josh Grassi, Will Harder (injured), Tanner Josey, goalkeeper Willis Sanchez-duPont, Jack Swanson and Jake Whitlock.
Juniors, 11th grade (9)—Henry Everitt, Alex Feldman, Jay Fitzgerald, Bryce Gillespie, Tom Gillespie, Colby Marsh, Garrett Rawlings, Alex Schwartz and Keegan Whitelaw.
Sophomores, 10th grade (6)—Johnny Blackburn, Gavin Blair, Jackson Dies, Dehner Figge, Keene Morawitz and Ziggy Slanetz.
Freshmen, 9th grade (6)—Hayden Baker, James Everitt, Will Lichtenstein, Nick Smith, Charlie Stumph and Briggs Whorton.