Prep boys' soccer: Hunter off to fantastic start
Things aren't quite as they should be when the Hunter boys soccer team goes to practice these days.
Exercises are held on a makeshift field in between the football field, where the Wolverines now play their home games, and their former digs.
The Hunter soccer players fairly easily still can see their old scoreboard without the ability to actually be next to it. A corridor has been dug in between to accommodate a future high-volume traffic conduit on the west side of the metro area finish date to be determined and that essentially has cut the old home field in half.
But it's all good, if you ask the Hunter contingent.
And that's because the Wolverines have jumped out to a 5-1-1 start and have heady ambitions to be part of the conversation when the Class 5A state championship is decided.
"I'm happy with the talent, if we can put it all together. In my five seasons here, this is the most talent we've had," said Larry Garahana, who is in his third year as Hunter's coach after serving a pair of campaigns as an assistant. "We'll have a good team for the next three or four years."
Hunter lost to Lone Peak in the opening game of the 2012 state tournament, but it was the first time in seven years that the Wolverines even made the postseason.
"We've been working all together since we were in ninth grade," senior Raul Cavazos said. "Through the years, we've got to know each other, and I think this is our best year."
"When we're on, we can possess the ball pretty well and can make pretty smart passes," Garahana said. "When you can control the ball, you can control the game.
Cavazos and fellow senior midfielder Kendall Taylor lead Hunter in scoring, but Garahana believes that it's his team's defense that is a major strength.
The coach cites players like senior Travis Brinkerhoff and quick Nick Davis as key defenders. One major component, senior Nathan Palmer, broke his foot in a game against West and will be out for as much as six weeks.
Backstopping the Wolverines' defense is a very young goal keeper in freshman Justin Motzkus, who has manned the net in four shutouts.
"It was a tough decision," Garahana said. "I had two very good keepers one who had won state cup [junior Brian Sencion] and Justin. For being a freshman, Justin is very poised. He's had some excellent training. He's played in some big games, some big tournaments. I can only see him improving as young as he is. He's a smart player with a lot of good skills."
One aspect that Hunter is improving on is the academic side of being a high school student-athlete, according to Garahana.
"Last year, we had six kids under a 3.0. Looking through past records, we had 26 who were barely above 2.0 one time," the coach said.
"It's something that everyone does together," Taylor said. "Everybody wants to work for a 3.0 and it builds more unity."