The good programs never rebuild. They simply reload.
In a year when many top boys soccer teams have been decimated by graduation, traditional powerhouse Bishop Gorman, the defending state champion, has re-armed and heads into the 2007 season in a familiar spot as one of the favorites.
“If my team takes care of the things they have to do, we’re going to be a tough team to beat,” said Nick Arbelaez, who will share the coaching duties this season with his father, Victor, the longtime Gorman coach who is back after a one-year hiatus to recover from cancer surgery.
“My father has developed a great program, and kids want to go to Gorman to play soccer for him,” Nick Arbelaez said.
To that end, losing All-Southern Nevada performers such as Adam Trujillo, Brent Young and Zac Zaher is not as daunting as it might seem. The Gaels simply see it as an opportunity to plug in younger, equally capable players to take their place.
Gorman will count on Cody Barnett and Nic Eary, who scored two goals in last season’s state championship game, to lead 16 returning players and a good freshman class into Sunset Region play.
Bonanza, which finished second to Gorman in the Southwest Division last season, is one of many 2006 contenders who were hit hard by graduation, and the Bengals probably face a rebuilding year.
Perennial Sunset powers, Palo Verde and Centennial are in a similar spot, having to rely on inexperienced players.
Clark, which missed the postseason by a point last season, could be a dark horse. Though the Chargers don’t have many returning starters, the junior varsity team went undefeated last year. Their chances ride on how quickly those players can make a contribution.
“I think we’ll have a few surprises for some people,” Clark coach Michael Sarabyn said.
In the Sunrise, Green Valley, which had an excellent junior varsity team last season, is a favorite, along with Rancho and Tech (formerly Vo-Tech).
Del Sol, one of the few teams with experience returning, could be a surprise after finishing .500 last season.
Traditional power Silverado is having trouble filling out a roster because of academics.
“I don’t want to write us off completely, but we’re probably not going to be as good as we have been for the last three years,” Silverado coach John Cwik said.
Las Vegas, missing eight starters from last year’s state semifinalist squad, probably would be happy just to make the playoffs.
“We just lost so much,” Wildcats coach Vince Hart said.Preps Central
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Basic — Chris Garcia
Bishop Gorman — Cody Barnett, Nic Early
Clark — Howard Morales
Eldorado — Jacob Justice, Jonathan Lopez
Las Vegas — Jaime Toscano
Palo Verde — Eric Garcia
Sierra Vista — Andrew Fontein
Silverado — Joey Mora
Spring Valley — Jason Mazzeo
Tech — Ramiro Baldivias
Valley — Jeremy Meduvsky