Lack of proven upperclassmen makes boys season unpredictable
The central Ohio high school boys soccer season has all the makings of being unpredictable because of a lack of proven standout upperclassmen.
The only player who returns after making the ThisWeek Super 12 team last season is Olentangy Liberty senior midfielder Sam DeRoy.
DeRoy, who has verbally committed to Wright State, had 17 goals and eight assists last season while leading the Patriots to a Division I state runner-up finish.
"From the minute he stepped on the field last year, he brought an intensity and a standard," Liberty coach Rick Collins said. "We expected him to be a good player. He was a goal scorer, but from a goal-scoring standpoint he just blew up last year. He's a midfielder, and it's another unique thing to have a midfielder score that many goals."
Outside of DeRoy, only two other returning players, Reynoldsburg senior midfielder Alec Everts and Grandview senior goalkeeper Ben Farynowski, even made Super 12 honorable mention.
For the first time, the Columbus Crew Academy is fielding year-round U15/16 and U17/18 teams. Some of the area's top expected returnees, including Worthington Kilbourne senior Charlie Reymann, Gahanna senior Alex Crognale, Hilliard Davidson senior Alex Bumpus, Pickerington North senior Tommy Harr and Hilliard Darby junior Nate Kohl, are among those playing for the Crew Academy.
The 2012 senior class included college recruits and Super 12 players such as Scioto's Cheick Diawara (Wright State), Worthington Christian's Brett Elder (Wright State), Coffman's Zak Leedom (West Virginia), Big Walnut's Zach Mason (Ohio State), Westerville South's Ryan McLaughlin (College of Charleston), Upper Arlington's Rhodes Moore (Xavier) and Gahanna's David Witkoff (Georgetown).
Elder was the Super 12 captain last season.
While DeRoy might be the best returning area player, teams like Coffman are hoping to win with depth. The Shamrocks have 12 players back, including a seven-member senior class expected to feature Nick Gualtieri (midfielder), Ryan Prescott (forward) and Trent Rantala (goalie).
Pickerington Central, which is expected to be among central Ohio's better teams after earning an OCC-Ohio Division runner-up finish, has a group of strong seniors led by Derrick Awuah, Nate Buccilla and Dillon Ricketts.
Pickerington North also has a large senior class, which should be led by senior midfielder Tanner Ebright.
Gahanna lost a large 2012 senior class in addition to Crognale but has a talented pair of returnees in seniors Joe Chandler and Andrew Schwall.
Worthington Christian, which won its third Division III state title in six seasons last fall, has a strong returning cast that includes senior Quinn Miller and senior twins Albert and George Miller.
Canal Winchester senior Matt Appel has verbally committed to Xavier and should be one of the area's top goalkeepers.
"Most of the other big players I know of are playing for the Crew Academy this year," Collins said. "We ended up only losing two guys to the Academy. The nice thing is that it's not like it's only been two or three teams, but most teams have lost two or three. It affects everybody."