The boys soccer team had a great run last year with an unexpected and abrupt end to the season. Coach Austin Marques led the girls team this past fall and this is his first year at the helm of the boys team.
His instructions were basic for the younger players and more nuanced for veterans. Marques advised Arthur Hawks to be a barrier. “There’s a difference between being a barrier and making contact with a player. If you step into another player’s space, that’s A-OK as long as you don’t make contact, you can be a barrier all day long,” Marques told Hawks.
Marques showed Hawks that a good barrier or blocker does not necessarily charge an opponent for a face-to-face confrontation. The secret to good blocking is to face the ball and slide in front of the opponent and make the opposition go around.
Marques also advised his goalies: “Don’t bobble the ball in your hands, catch it and fall on it.” At a recent practice, the full team scrimmaged and engaged in a variety of drills for over two hours.
“I’m really excited,” said Marques. “This is my first year as the boys coach and in the short month of February and in this first official week of practice, the boys have done everything I’ve asked and they have tried their hardest at everything I have asked of them.”
He intends to mix up the lineup.
“I’ve already told all of these boys they will be playing different positions than normal. They will be playing multiple offensive and defensive formations. It’s very important to me that these boys are students of the game and not just players running around. Them playing multiple positions is so they can better understand how their teammates move and to create better team chemistry.”
Seniority will be rewarded, but everybody has equal standing, he said.
“There isn’t anyone who stands out significantly, because there is someone who stands out from every single class. Freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors, the JV and varsity team is going to be a conglomeration of all the classes,” he said. “The JV boys who are younger, who will be preparing to play varsity next year, or towards the end of the season, they are going to be on the same page as the varsity players.”
“I don’t know how far they are going to go. If they work at it, it’s promising, but I can’t make any promises about how far the boys go. I’m not looking towards just the end of just this season. I’m not looking at the playoffs or winning a state championship. I’m looking to develop a program and that takes a few years.”
Marques is more interested in building a strong foundation rather than going into the 2020 season with an all-or-nothing approach.
“End of the season doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “These boys are going to develop a program that they have created, that they’ve worked hard to make and I’m just going to guide them to it. I’m excited. It’s going to be awesome this year.”
The Red Devils’ first match was against the San Juan Broncos, in Blanding on Wednesday, March 4, after The Times-Independent went to press. Look for an update in the March 12 edition.