Derby's 2-0 boys soccer win over previously undefeated and state-ranked Hutchinson on Tuesday makes it hard for any opponent to overlook the Panthers.
Under second-year coach Robert Rhodes, Derby (5-4, 2-1 Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division I) has beaten top teams Trinity Academy and Hutchinson but has lost to Dodge City and Northwest.
Dan Gough, who scored a first-half goal in his team's win over Hutch, said the team's performances have been hard to read, but will level out soon.
"We haven't been able to finish. We've made a few mistakes in the past games to get down and we haven't been able to finish off games," Gough said. "Against Hutch we were able to finish. It depends on how the chemistry is feeling that day and how the midfield and the forwards are working."
Gough said he's confident the team will be able to continue its improvement in working together as the season progresses. Rhodes has seen the improvement and thinks the team's tough schedule so far will prepare it for its postseason goals.
"We're gradually getting better at some of the things we've been working on like winning 50-50 balls and being more aggressive," Rhodes said. "And it's starting to show in our results."
Big win _ Junior Ben Bombardier had two assists in Kapaun Mount Carmel's 4-0 win Tuesday over Southeast, and wants to have the same type of effort in tonight's 7 p.m. matchup against Northwest at Stryker Complex, 2999 N. Greenwich Road.
"This game is really important, and I think it's the biggest game of our season," Bombardier said. "We're approaching it like it will be the biggest game of our season. We're ready for it."
Both teams are undefeated in City League play and have been hot in the weeks since the Titan Classic.
Moving on for Southeast _ The last week and a half has been tough for Southeast. Four players, including skilled forwards Joel Wiebe and Konner Knoll, were suspended for disciplinary reasons by coach Tom Rhodes, leaving the team a little short on offense. The suspension ends at the end of this week.
Captain Alfredo Jimenez has been one of the Buffaloes trying to keep pressure off keeper Merrick Rhodes.
"He's really stepped it up and taken a lot of the load off of the other players. He feels like he needs to be the one to score some goals. He could have scored some goals in the first half, he just had some bad breaks."
Jimenez knows the team has been struggling, but he's making no excuses. He still expects Southeast (2-5, 2-1) to be competitive and win some games despite the rough patch they've hit.
"I'm a captain, but all of us have to step it up no matter who it is," Jimenez said." You could be a junior, a sophomore or even a freshman... with the guys we have on the team we can win. Last week we beat Bishop Carroll and that was without two of those guys. We've got to come together as a family and start scoring and win some games."