McPherson High’s boys soccer team is just over a week away from opening its season Aug. 29 at Newton and Bullpup coach Chris Adrian is seeing progress after a week of practice.
“The players are all really starting to get comfortable around each other, which is leading to better competition in practice,” said Adrian, who is working with a squad of 29, 18 of those being freshmen and sophomores. “The first couple days you could tell everyone was excited to get going, but nervous at the same time. This group really understands that it’s going to take a team effort to be successful this season. There have been some really good moments in practice where we’ve seen great teamwork and combination play, but we’ve got to work hard at doing that consistently and not just in flashes.”
Adrian’s biggest concern is replacing the graduated Patrick Munsey and Andric McGill, who accounted for nearly 75 percent of the team’s goals last year. He says new leaders have to emerge if the Bullpups are to approach their recent lofty status.
“Tyler Hoxie, Darrius Armstrong and Britton Haigh had a really strong first week of practice and have looked good, but there are quite a few others that have worked hard in the summer and have come ready to go so it’s difficult to only name a few,” Adrian said.
Adrian never has been shy about throwing freshmen into the fire, including last year when he had as many as five playing key roles by the end of the season.
“A couple freshmen that have been doing a nice job are Cody Achilles and Logan Ediger,” he said. “They came in great physical shape and have been at the top or near the top in all our fitness tests.”
Adrian said there are still areas that need improvement.
“Our possession and fitness levels must improve before the first game,” he said. “We made a lot of progress during the first week, but there is still a long way to go before our first game.”
The Bullpups are road warriors early on, playing their first five games on the road — three in the Maize South Invitational.