KCHI Sports Director, Brent Hesse, sat down with Coach Tim Cunningham of the Chillicothe Hornets Soccer team to discuss the upcoming fall season. The audio of the interview that played on the radio is included in this article, and Coach Cunningham’s responses are in bold.
This is Brent Hesse with another fall sports season preview. I’m here with the Boys Soccer Coach here for the Chillicothe Hornets, Coach Tim Cunningham. Coach Cunningham, thank you so much for joining us today. How are you doing?
I’m doing great, thanks for having me.
I’m excited for the fall sports season to be here, I know it’s getting really close and can you talk us through, how about last year, how things have gone for this program in recent years. I know you’ve been here for quite a while and you’ve won four district championships. Can you tell us about some of those teams and then last year’s team? What do you expect going forward?
Yeah we have had a great deal of success in our program in the last 12 years and that’s a credit to the kids that we’ve had. We’ve had some really hard-working kids that play the game the right way, are coachable, and the great thing is we’ve just got another group of them this year. Two years ago we had our best team in school history we made it to the Quarterfinals and unfortunately lost that game one step away from the Final Four after winning 18 straight games and graduated a lot of incredible talent off the team and then last year we went 10-10-1, won 10, lost 10 and had one tie and I thought that was a really good season considering everything that we lost from the year before. We lost two or three of the best players we have ever had in our programs history and we lost all region players and to replace them with some maybe less experienced players or some players that had to play bigger rolls, I thought last year‘s team was a lot of fun to coach and it was a lot of fun to watch and our guys just kept getting better. The team we were at the end of the season was way better than the team we were at the beginning of the season and as a coach that’s something that you really look forward to.
There’s always those ebbs and flows with high school sports when you graduate some players, and some years you just have those really strong classes, so great to see even after losing all that talent still being able to come back and field a competitive team in which you finished with a 4-3 conference record, so still a winning record in conference and also looked like your goal scoring was really balanced. You had a number of different players contributing. Is that what you expect this year? What do you expect in terms of the roster this season?
Yeah, so we did have very balanced scoring last year. We had several players reach double digits, which is always a goal. The year before, two years ago, we were really lead by two high goal-scoring players, both got up in the 30s which actually broke our school record. This year, I think we’re going to lean a little more heavily on a couple of returners that we have. Jacob Adams was one of those players that scored in double digits and he actually missed five or six games for us because of an injury, so we’re expecting big things from him. He had a tremendous track season, won the 200 in the conference and finished in the top three in the 100 so he’s a gifted athlete but he is also a very skilled player and I think we’re going to see great things from him. Jonathan Sanchez is going to be up there with him playing as a forward as well and he’s kind of moved around the last two years, playing defender a little bit for us, and then we moved him up to midfielder and now we’re just going to go ahead and slide him into that starting forward spot. He’s another great track athlete that’s very athletic and also going to be a skilled player for us at the forward position. Then our four midfielders Jadon Collins, Josh Adams who has been playing defender and we are going to move him up to midfield, Coy Jones and Isaac Bailey are going to be our outside mids and I think they’re going to do a great job setting up Jacob and Jonathan and then scoring of course when they get opportunities.
Talking with Coach Cunningham of the boys soccer team, you mentioned some of those other players, can you talk about who are some maybe younger players or less experience players that maybe didn’t get the recognition in past seasons or maybe just don’t have those accolades, but you expect to provide big roles for the team this year?
Well returning for us from last years team, of course, those six that we mentioned, now Coy, he’s a freshman so he’s going to obviously see his first varsity action, Isaac was one of our guys that came off the bench for us so his roll is going to get much bigger. The rest of those gentleman all played meaningful rolls for us last year. In the goal is going to be James Matthew. He played keeper for about half a season for us last year, then ended up moving him on to the field and he has some of the most God-given ability of anybody we have coached in the keep. I think he’s got a chance to be really really special and really good for us as a keeper. Tyler Stephens is going to be one of our center backs he’s another gentleman that’s played for three years, or started for three years. He’s a senior, was All-Conference for us last year. We’re expecting big things from him in a little bit bigger role. Bradley Ferguson will be our sweeper and then Charlie Reeter and then the other outside back is still yet to be determined. We’re still trying to figure that out, we’ve got Ryan Schuler who is a freshman, Eli Carpenter who’s a senior, maybe Landon Thompson he’s a sophomore, Martin Moore who is a junior for us. So we’ve got a lot of guys that have some experience but maybe not a lot in certain roles and they’re all really working hard so far in practice and we just got to try to fit those piece together. The good thing is we’ve got good pieces, we just got to make sure we get them in the right spots.
And the good thing is you still have a little bit of time to work through that, especially with a jamboree, I know that’s coming up. Can you tell us about the schedule, in terms for practicing, those exhibition games during the jamboree and then when’s your first actual real matches and then first home game, when people here in Chillicothe will be able to come out and support the boys soccer team here?
So we’ve had seven or eight really good practices. We had a scrimmage this past weekend where the boys just got to come out play a little bit and we had a little breakfast. We always do that every year for a team bonding experience for us, but our guys work so hard and we ask a lot out of them because soccer is, as you know, a very demanding sport and physically demanding and mentally demanding and challenging, so we ask a lot out of our guys and they really do a great job stepping up for that. Our jamboree is Saturday, it’s actually been moved from Excelsior Springs to Kearney, I guess Excelsior Springs was having some stadium issues so we’re going to drive down to the city and Excelsior Springs was a Final Four team last year and Kearney is always a really tough team, they’re a bigger school so it’s a really good challenge right out of the blocks for our guys. We’re going to get to see a little bit about what we’re made out of and then also some areas that we need to get better at before we open our season with a conference game on the 29th at Cameron and then we go to the State Champions at Marshall, they won the Class 2 State Championship last year , and that’s one thing that we’ve always prided ourselves on, we play good schools we want to prepare ourselves for that District Tournament and I think the way you do that is by playing good competition. That’s where the jamboree really helps us and then also playing teams like Marshall and Maryville and LeBlond, they’re in our conference, Saint Paul’s, Kirksville, all of those are very good programs that’ll toughen us and hopefully prepare us for the District Tournament. Our first home game is September 5th against St Joe Lafayette and as always we would love for everybody to come out and watch us and hopefully we play a style of soccer that the community can be proud of.
Yeah I’m excited for the season to start. I know that you’ve been here so long. What do you think about this individual team is going to be the strength of this team that you are expecting to see this year?
Well that just made me sound really old so I appreciate that but I have been here for a day or two but I think this team is fairly skilled through the middle, through the middle of our team I think also, the thing that I really enjoy is our chemistry and that is something that we talk about every year is just trying to become a family and building that really good team chemistry where everybody’s on the same page and everybody’s fighting for each other and so far the guys have really done that. We welcomed our freshman in with open arms, our newcomers I think feel welcomed into our program and so I think just the overall team chemistry’s going be really good and then we do have some very skilled players that have some experience playing in big games and hopefully we can just fit those pieces around them and have a really successful season.
Talking with Coach Tim Cunningham of the boys soccer team, thank you so much for your time, we look forward to following along throughout the whole season for the Chillicothe Hornets Soccer team.
Thanks for having me and again we want to welcome everybody out to watch us play and I want to wish all the other fall sports a great season as well.