By Thomas Sellers Jr.
In five short years, the Munford Cougar Soccer program has gone from the hunters to the hunted.
After a 15-5-2 Regional Semifinal season in 2013, the Cougars return in 2014 with a lineup featuring nine seniors. Three of those players will be playing on the next level after they wrap up their prep careers with Head Coach Richard Selby.
Despite reaching new levels of success for Munford Soccer in 2013, Selby said its been easy to keep his players grounded and focused.
“The bottom line is there is only one team who ends the season with a win,” he said. “So, if you end the season on a loss, you definitely have something you can improve on. The boys understand there’s a goal out there. That goal is not to end the season on a loss but to end up in Murfreesboro and play in the final game, be there. We as always have a lot of work to do.”
Selby said his players are putting in the work during the preseason to prepare for a touch overall schedule and foes from District 13-3A. He noted the talent is there to make a run for the best season in Munford Soccer history.
“We’ve got what it takes,” he said. “But we have a lot of work to do. The potential is there. We can say we beat some very good teams last year. There wasn’t a single game last year we were not in until the end. Out of five losses, there were only three teams who beat us last year. Those were all 2-0, 2-1. We were in those games. Any time we stepped on the pitch, we had a chance.”
For the Cougars to be competitive in 2014, Selby said it will start with defense. The projected line who will help shut down opposing strikers will be seniors Troy Moyer, Tyler Futrell and Cedrick Williams. Another Cougar who will be featured on the defensive line will be Alex Cherry. Williams and Cherry could line up anywhere on the field from defense to offense.
“We’re going to be solid back there on that back line,” Selby said. “Where our youth is going to come in will be up there in that striker position. We found some people who will be able to maintain their composure and finish for us.”
Cherry and Williams will move around the field and play off the ball along Robby Roach. Robby’s younger brother Danny comes in as a freshman striker for the Cougars. Another offensive threat will be senior Julian Morris.
But the key to success for both the offense and defense is Jaylen Hill.
“Jaylen Hill if you’re looking at our team, Eric Furseth is the foundation,” Selby said. “Jaylen Hill is the heartbeat. His quickness and play will determine how well we do. If Jaylen is doing well, we’re going to be successful. If Jaylen is moving slow, we’re going to move slow.”
Hill is the spark plug for the Cougars and his play dictates the tempo on both sides of the ball.
“While Jaylen is the heart, Eric is the foundation back there with our defense,” Selby continued. “Eric has been a young man who has matured so much the last three seasons. He’s matured so much he knows the exceptions of the team on and off the field. Eric is a young man who is definitely going to be a leader for us this year.”
Furseth will be featured in goal. He was a Best of the Preps player last season, All-Region and helped guided the Cougars to a Best of the West title. Furseth has committed to Memphis. Moyer and Hill are also committed to the college level heading to Rochester College and Lincoln Memorial respectively.
Selby said the pieces are there for a special season. And his seniors are ready to be competitive against their 2014 schedule.
“The good thing about these seniors, they compete among each other,” he said. “They’re bumping, banging and saying ‘My shot is better than your shot.’ You’re not going to steal the ball from one of them and not expect them to try to get it back right then.
“One thing I don’t have to worry about with these guys is complacency,” Selby concluded. “My biggest fear with them is they try to whop each other in practice on the field all the time.”