Bulldog soccer ready to make another run at stateBy Bruce Whetten
Soccer season kicks off this week for the Douglas Bulldogs who are playing in the Brandon Bean Invitational.
Douglas opened up its season Monday at Buena. On Tuesday they were at home against Sahuaro and Friday will face Catalina Foothills in Tucson. Depending on how they fare in those three games will determine if they play on Saturday in the tournament round.
Ken Cormier is beginning his 10th year as head coach. He is joined for the seventh straight year by loyal assistants Alfonso Romero and Victor Ramos.
Cormier said he had 80 kids out for soccer when practice first started. He added he’s looking at keeping 15-20 kids on each of the three levels varsity, junior varsity and junior varsity B which is like a freshman team.
The coach said he has 12 players back from last years’ team that lost in the state semifinals; eight of those returners are starters.
Cormier said for the Brandon Bean he is going to suit up his 20 best which may or may not include seniors.
“Our 20 best are the players that have impressed us with their skill level,” the coach said. “That includes a number of freshmen.”
After the tournament Cormier and his coaches will then assess where those players are.
“If these freshmen and sophomores can earn a spot on the starting lineup then that’s going to make it difficult to take some seniors that have been in the program,” the coach said. “If they need future development and need playing time then they’ll move down to JV-A or JV-B level. We will then reassess things should we qualify for state.”
The coach said once again his team had a very successful summer playing in the local men’s summer league which included many former players.
“They played 16 games,” the coach said. “The summer league each year is increasingly getting more competitive because our kids graduate and come back and play. … I think it’s as competitive as some of the other Tucson leagues. We even had a team from Sierra Vista come in and play because of the competitive nature of it.”
The coach said thanks to the summer league when the first day of practice rolls around for the Bulldogs his team is often ahead of the other teams thanks to the kids playing in the summer league.
Looking at the players coming back the coach feels fortunate to have lost just three starters unfortunately one of those starters was his goalie Rene Moran.
Sophomore Marcus Gonzalez and junior Juan Rivera are the two players battling it out for that spot, the coach said.
Two captains Luis Teran and Javier Buelna bring a real positive leadership to the team, the coach said.
“Along with that we have a number of players who have a lot of experience at the varsity level; experience of playing at state,” the coach said. “They know what it takes; they’re willing to pay the price. I think we’re all pretty excited about the prospects for this year.”
Senior Ozzie Moreno and juniors Kirt Cormier, Chris Cruz and Johnny Monarrez are all expected to contribute heavily this year.
The coach said he and his staff are really optimistic this team can make another run at a state championship again.
“That’s our goal,” the coach said. “We don’t see any reason we can’t compete with anyone that we play against.”
In regular season play the Bulldogs will play Nogales in a home and home series as well as Thatcher and Safford. Ironically they will host Sahuaro twice, once in the tournament and then again two weeks later at home in the regular season.
Douglas has just one match with Rio Rico; that will take play Dec. 17 in Rio Rico.
“It’s real easy if we have success against some of those weaker teams for the players to start thinking they are better than what they are,” the coach said. “The first part of the season is the real difficult part. … We’ll use the Brandon Bean to see exactly what our mix is going to be. ”