Nestor Arrellano, a junior at Moffat County High School, kicks the ball downfield during a soccer practice at Loudy-Simpson Park this summer. Arrellano is one of several versatile players returning to the Bulldogs this year.

Photo by Nate Waggenspack

Nestor Arrellano, a junior at Moffat County High School, kicks the ball downfield during a soccer practice at Loudy-Simpson Park this summer. Arrellano is one of several versatile players returning to the Bulldogs this year.

Kicking it up a notch

Boys soccer team ready to roll

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Derek Maiolo, a junior at MCHS, chases after the ball at soccer practice this summer. Maiolo has played soccer before, but this will be his first season playing for Moffat County High School. He is one of several players who will need to contribute for the Bulldogs to have a big year, according to coach Rusty Cox.

Team at a Glance:

Moffat County High School boys soccer

Coach: Rusty Cox

Returning seniors: Bryant Cox, Alan Flores, Alex Perez, Jaime Sanchez, Eric Silva

2011 Record: 6-7-2

Quotable

“It’s been going through my head. Last year I knew the styles everybody played. This year not knowing, we’re going to have to play through it and make our adjustments.”

—Rusty Cox, MCHS boys soccer head coach, about playing against 3A teams this season.

A grueling session of summer conditioning and skill work has the Moffat County High School boys soccer team primed for a big season.

The team, which begins its season by traveling to Coal Ridge High School Sept. 4, has several contributing graduates to replace from last year’s team, but that’s a process head coach Rusty Cox has grown accustomed to.

“We had six seniors last year, but every year we have to replace a bunch,” Cox said. “In our program we don’t have a whole lot of players. So every year when we lose people, it’s a lot.”

The boys team had a middling year in 2011, going 6-7-2 in the Western Slope League, but showed off its talent in certain games, including a 3-3 tie against Steamboat Springs High School, which went 13-3-1 last year.

While MCHS still will play Steamboat once this year, most of the rest of the teams on its schedule are new. The Bulldogs moved to Class-3A from 4A this off-season.

Cox said the only 3A league game against a familiar opponent will come against Roaring Fork High School.

“We’ve played Rifle before and Steamboat,” Cox said. “As far as everybody else, it will all be new.”

Seeing fresh faces will present a challenge for Cox as coach in helping prepare his players for schemes and styles he hasn’t seen.

“I don’t know (what it will be like playing new teams) to be honest with you,” he said. “It’s been going through my head. Last year I knew the styles everybody played. This year not knowing, we’re going to have to play through it and make our adjustments.”

The players aren’t as worried. Senior Bryant Cox said many of the players will be familiar from outside the high school sports scene.

“We’ve played them before because of club ball,” Bryant Cox said. “We’ve seen these players and coaches. It’s not all going to be new.”

Also new for the Bulldogs boys soccer team in 2012 is its scheme. Rusty Cox said he is planning to adjust his team’s alignment to better utilize its strong defensive players and talented playmakers.

The idea is to take advantage of his top players’ strengths and give them a chance to create, he said.

Those changes will probably be a work in progress. Due to the team’s low numbers, they haven’t been able to play 11-on-11 soccer in practice to get those systems rooted.

Rusty Cox is not worried about his team as the season starts, though. He knows he has enough talent to get wins; it will be a matter of putting them into the right positions.

“I’m still really trying to find that right lineup,” he said. “We’ve got guys who are so versatile that sometimes it’s hard to find that real niche.”

With under a week to go until the season begins, players were ready to get on the field and showcase their abilities.

“I’m pumped,” senior Jaime Sanchez said. “I’m excited to see how we react when we get out there.”

Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or nwaggenspack@craigdailypress.com. Follow Craig Daily Press sports coverage on Twitter at @CDP_Sports.

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