’Jackets soccer top-heavy with seniors

RON JOHNSTON The Marietta Times Williamstown’s Boston Caruthers (24) handles the ball during a high school boys soccer match against Parkersburg South last season.

WILLIAMSTOWN — Williamstown High will be fielding a veteran boys’ soccer team this upcoming season.

Those 13 juniors on the Yellowjacket roster last year are now seniors.

“These guys have known each other for a long, long time,” said first-year WHS boys’ head coach Jason Hill. “I’ve known quite a few of them for a good bit, and some of them I’m getting to know.”

Hill, who is succeeding Telma Poole at the helm, was the Yellowjacket girls’ soccer boss for a few years before taking a leave of absence from the sideline pitch last season.

“Yeah, this is the year for these guys who’ve been playing together at these very fields since kindergarten-first grade,” Hill said. “I know there’s a lot of excitement. We met over at the Pizza Place in Marietta and had a team pizza dinner, and talked about goals for the individuals and goals for the team. They all want a lot from the season, and the invitation is there for them to get a lot. But they’ve got to put a lot into it, and I think they understand that.”

The Yellowjacket seniors are Josh Chambers, Damian Cunningham, Deshon Simon, Dylan Hall, Grant Bobbitt, Boston Caruthers, Trenton Lynch, Dylan Cosner, Joseph James, Cole Hodges, Mason Bosgraf, Bradey Fayad, and Landon Mahaney.

Chambers, Bobbitt, and Bosgraf are the tri-captains. And, Caruthers is pulling double duty as a kicker on the Terry Smith-coached Williamstown football team.

“I think we’re really experienced since we have 13 seniors,” said Caruthers, a four-year soccer letter winner. “I think at most positions we have seniors, except for maybe two or three.”

During preseason action, Williamstown played at Grafton and Phillip Barbour, and won both matches.

“We looked good in those scrimmages,” Caruthers said.

Added Hill, “We got on the bus and got used to traveling together, being together, and playing on turf. Both were two-hour bus rides away.

“The boys played well. I obviously have high expectations. And I can always find things. We watched film last night (Wednesday), and I tried to shut up the best I could so they could see for themselves how their individual play contributed to the team’s success or failure.”

Williamstown is scheduled to kick off its season on the road at South Harrison at 7 p.m. Tuesday (Aug. 21).

“We haven’t played them in a few years,” Hill said. “It’ll be a gritty game. They’ll probably match up real similar to us — and kind of play a rough and tough ballgame.”

The Yellowjacket starters are expected to be James as keeper; Chambers, Cunningham, Simon, Bobbitt as defenders; sophomore Garret Hill, sophomore Xavier Caruthers, freshman Mason Bosgraf, and Gavin Bosgraf as midfielders; and Boston Caruthers and Lynch as strikers.

“Having a couple of younger players coming in to complement some of the age and the experience of the older players is really nice,” Jason Hill said. “Right in the middle, we have a lot of skill from these young players to go with all the experience.”

The coach paused.

“Our goals are high,” Hill continued. “There’s a double-circle game on the schedule (Aug. 25) with Nitro High School, a team that put them (Jackets) out of the playoffs last year. Actually, Nitro went on to win the state. They graduated a bunch of kids, and if we can kind of harness some of the passion and energy towards Nitro and play our ballgame with the energy that I think we can, I think we’ll be competitive.”