BOYS SOCCER PREVIEW: Kentlake ready to break through

  • BY Wire Service
  • Tuesday, March 17, 2009 10:31pm
  • Sports

Kyle Jones is trying to keep things in perspective these days.

But, admittedly, it can be a tough for the Kentlake High boys soccer coach.

And why not? Jones is returning the bulk of talent that helped the Falcons advance to the postseason last year for the first time in school history. Throw in the fact that they are, for the first time, legitimate challengers in the South Puget Sound League North Division, and Jones can be forgiven if he seems a bit overzealous.

“In my first year (as coach), we wanted to gain respect,” said Jones, who’s starting his second season. “Now we have to live up to it. We can't sneak up on teams anymore. The carrot was dangled in front of the kids' faces.

“I’m trying to stay cool right now, but I am pretty emotional ... this could and should be their year,” Jones added.

That carrot of which Jones speaks so fondly was the team's first-ever playoff berth. Kentlake snuck into the postseason last year, nabbing the SPSL North's fourth and final slot. The Falcons lost to Emerald Ridge in a shootout, 1-0. But Jones insists it was a game his team should have had, as Kentlake outshot the Jaguars, 20-2.

The Falcons are using that loss as motivation.

“We have to turn a corner and with the kids we have, I think we can get it done,” Jones said.

Indeed they could.

Kentlake graduated just two starters and returns some of the best talent in the North, including first-team all-leaguers Tyler Wright and Drew Landram. Wright, a junior forward, led the Falcons in scoring last year with eight goals. But Landram, a senior midfielder, ultimately is the engine that makes Kentlake go, the type of ball distributor who can help make a good team great.

“He's as good as kid as you would ever want. He's my go-to guy,” Jones said of Landram. “He's an extension of me out there. He's allowed to coach. He's allowed to re-direct the players. There are not a whole lot of kids I give free reign to, but I do with Drew. He's just a playmaker.”

And Landram will have to be this year. While the Falcons are among the contenders in a loaded SPSL North, they are not the favorites. Instead, Auburn Riverside, which won the SPSL 3A a year ago, and perennial power Thomas Jefferson, also return considerable talent.

“It's all talk at this point,” Jones said. “I think Auburn Riverside is going to have a very good team, but I don't see any reason why we shouldn't challenge for that (top) spot.”


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