Boys Soccer: Jack Jenkins, Will Root anchor Canal Winchester on opposite ends of field

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Canal Winchester's Jack Jenkins (left) and Will Root anchor the field for the boys soccer team at opposite ends, with Jenkins at forward and Root, a former wing, having moved to defender.

Assessing his talent after being named Canal Winchester boys soccer coach in January, Cody Thomas knew he had a few moves to make while keeping some things the same as 22-year coach Erik Feinstein left them. 

At least one of his personnel moves has paid off, giving Thomas and the Indians “anchors” at both ends of the field. 

Senior forward Jack Jenkins had recorded 11 goals and four assists through 13 games to pace the offense, and converted wing Will Root has led a defense that had allowed more than two goals only three times during that stretch. 

Canal Winchester was 4-5-4 overall before playing Hartley on Oct. 8 and 1-3-2 in the OCC-Capital Division entering an Oct. 13 game at Big Walnut. 

“We have a lot of young talent but at the end of the day when we need someone to make a play, Will is the guy we go to to get the stop we need defensively," Thomas said. "And Jack has that ability to make a grind-it-out play. He’s not shy about scoring in big moments.” 

Jenkins, an Ohio Dominican commit, tied last year’s total of six goals in the first two games this season. He scored four times in an opening 6-1 home win over Chillicothe on Aug. 21 and added two goals in a 4-all tie at Pickerington Central four nights later.

“It was a huge confidence-booster," Jenkins said. "It was a confirmation to me that all that work I put in in the offseason was going to pay off and that I could do bigger things. I expected around 10 goals for the season. I figured I had to step up and get at least that many. 

“I just worked on finishing, being able to put the ball in the back of the net in the final third. I wanted to be able to get shots off quickly so I did a lot of drills focusing on one- or two-touch finishing, just where the ball comes, you have to know and just bury it.” 

Most of his other scores also came at opportune times. He scored the tying goal in a 1-all tie Sept. 15 at Dublin Scioto, had the only goal in a 1-all tie against Westerville North on Sept. 22 and had both goals in a 2-0 win over Delaware on Oct. 6. In addition, he assisted on Sam Dowden’s equalizer in a 2-all tie Sept. 19 at Perrysburg,

At 5-foot-11 and 210 pounds, Root immediately was pegged by Thomas as a defender, a position Root played as a freshman. 

“I had to get used to calling out everything in the back, like where people need to mark and need to go," Root said. "I never really had to do that on the wing. (Thomas) asked me if I’d ever played defense and I said not much, but I kind of ended up there. I think it was my size, and we didn’t really have anyone to play defense so he asked me to step up and I did.” 

Although Root called wing his “natural position,” he said he didn't hesitate to change spots.

“We knew Will needed to be on the field," Thomas said. "He can play anywhere he wants, but we looked at our back line and saw we could use someone to provide experience, stability and leadership.

"He’s a team player. He wants to be an every-minute guy. For his size and his athleticism, he’s nimble and quick on his feet.” 

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekDave