Many questions will be answered throughout the 2019 boys high school soccer season in the Wichita area.
Here are a few of them, part of the Eagle’s fall sports preview:
Har far will Carroll fall in 2019?
Bishop Carroll placed fourth in Class 5A last year, so it would have been hard to improve on that finish anyway, but the Golden Eagles bring back only four starters.
Carroll has been one of the Wichita area’s best programs since coach Mike Skaggs took over. He has led the Eagles to three straight state semifinal appearances and four straight City League titles.
But on paper, those streaks could come to an end in 2019.
Carroll had the Class 5A goalkeeper, defender and forward of the year last season. None of the three return this season.
The Golden Eagles still enter as one of the area’s top teams and will improve through the regular season. They play one of the toughest schedules in Kansas that includes every City League team, third-place 5A finisher St. James Academy, 6A power Washburn Rural, Maize and Trinity Academy.
Before reaching the state semifinals, Carroll could face any mixture of Wichita area 5A teams like Maize South, Andover Central and Eisenhower. And in the City League, Kapaun, Heights, North and East have legitimate shots at victories over the four-time champs.
Carroll brings back senior Tyler Griffin this season, who will be called upon to carry much of the creative duty. His experience will be invaluable to Carroll’s progression this season.
Can Maize South build on history?
After Maize South’s Andrew Bliss scored in double overtime of the Mavericks’ regional championship game against league rival Eisenhower, they felt like a team of destiny.
Maize South went on to finish runner-up in Class 5A, the best finish in school history. Now the Mavericks will look to build on that history without their top two players from last year while competing in the toughest league in maybe all of Kansas.
Bliss and Bryce Bowman were All-Metro selections last year. They had the ball at their feet more than perhaps any other duo in the Wichita area. Now the Mavericks have to divy up the responsibility.
Maize South brings back a strong nucleus from the state roster last year, including All-Metro contenders like junior Raul Gerhardus, junior wing Landon Eskridge, senior midfielder Cooper Joseph and senior defender Jack Manske.
Those four form one of the best leadership groups to ever come through Maize South, coach Rey Ramirez said. But the bad news might have come last season.
Eisenhower beat Maize South in the regular season, but the Mavericks said they won the game that mattered most in the postseason. That will give the Tigers all the motivation they need, and fellow AVCTL II foe Andover Central will be fired up, too, to knock the Mavs off.
AVCTL II race will be the best in the area
The top three teams in the Wichita area come out of AVCTL II, according to the Eagle’s preseason top 25 rankings.
Maize South was a win away from a Class 5A state championship last year. Andover Central was the area’s last undefeated team, fell apart in the postseason but bring back a lot of talent to avenge 2018. And Eisenhower has arguably the best roster top-to-bottom in the area.
Last year, the three shared the AVCTL II championship on the final day of the regular season. It left all three teams with a tinge of spice in their mouths.
Here is the schedule you should know:
Maize South at Eisenhower, 6:30 p.m. Oct. 15
Andover Central at Maize South, 6:30 p.m. Oct. 22
Eisenhower at Andover Central, 6:30 p.m. Oct. 24
The trio must avoid trap games against quality teams like Andover, Valley Center and Goddard. If so, the race to the top will make for a riveting nine days of soccer.
Which is the best USD 259 school?
Last year, it was North on paper.
Every year, the stars align for a Wichita public school to rise to the top of the City League standings. In 2019, it could be one of four: Heights, East or North.
Heights brings back more starters than almost anyone in Kansas. The Falcons were a .500 club last year and figure to improve dramatically under coach Dylan Fiegel.
East is set to launch one of the top attacks in the area with junior striker Ivan Quezada, who earned All-Metro honors last year after leading the City League in goals with 21.
North lost a lot of pieces, but 2018 was supposed to produce much more than a first-round postseason exit. This year’s group will be eager to prove last year wasn’t the time. It’s now.
Derby chasing magic again
Finishing 15-6-0, Derby was one of the best teams in Kansas last year and played its best soccer in the postseason.
Like most Derby athletics teams seem to do, the Panthers found ways to win against Class 6A powers like Washburn Rural to reach the state semifinals last year. Derby lost to eventual champion Olathe East in the semis and Shawnee Mission East in the third-place game, but they made history just getting there.
In 2019, the Panthers enter the season with a raised bar. Looking to continue the story, Derby has the potential to make noise again with a roster that includes several players who earned All-League honors last year.
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