SPRING SPORTS PREVIEW: HHS boys soccer looks to fill vacancies
Hartselle boys soccer lost their entire starting line-up to graduation this season, but they are still optimistic about their prospects.
Head coach Reagan Rhone is starting his fourth year with Hartselle soccer and his eighth year of coaching overall.
He said he is still looking forward to their upcoming developmental season with high hopes despite their heavy losses due to the growth and direction of the program.
“I’m really impressed by the quality of players we are getting,” Rhone said. “We are just starting to coach the boys who have played soccer their whole lives instead of being converted from another sport. The AYSO system has exploded since the fields on Groover Road were built. We are still building for our future, and I’m sure this will be a transitional year for us, but things are looking good.”
This year’s varsity team consists of eight seniors, eight juniors, three sophomores and a freshman. Rhone called them a “young, but influential group.” Last year’s team just missed the playoffs with a 17-6-2 record.
The seniors are Brad Gentle, Dolan Golden, Aquedo Gonzalez, Peyton Hammack, Josh Pohl, Ben Sexton, Casen Wallace and Blaine Williams.
“The seniors are hard workers, and they have been a part of the last two Morgan County championship teams,” Rhone said.
Rhone said the dedication of their players is their key to success this season and the continued growth of the program.
“Last year’s seniors had been playing together forever, so they had a really strong bond that helped us the last two years,” Rhone said. “We have several younger players who are on club teams, and we have a handful that are extremely dedicated. We need more athletes and dedicated soccer players. It’s rare that Hartselle has kids that just play soccer, but that’s how a state championship program is built.”
Rhone said they were first able to practice with a ball Jan. 19, but before that they started conditioning with running and agility after Thanksgiving two days a week. The team put together a summer club team that practiced all June and played in tournaments at the end of the month.
“We come up with a sort of All-Star team over the summer of varsity players and those who have just graduated,” Rhone said. “We put them in a few tournaments, and they have seen some success. This way they still get to play together in the off-season without taking up their whole summer.”
The reclassification changed their area opponents to Decatur and Austin.
“All three teams have been very close in the last few years, so I have no idea how this area will turn out,” Rhone said. “It’s going to be a close one, but I think our chances look pretty good this season.”