Crook County posts first winning record since 2007

by: LON AUSTIN - Zane Abrams leaps in the air to head a ball during a Cowboy victory over the Redmond Panthers earlier this year. Abrams was one of just three seniors on this year's Crook County team which finished the season with a 7-6-1 record.

The Crook County Cowboy soccer team appears to have turned a major corner.

“We won several games and gained a lot of experience,” Head Coach Joel Carrillo said. “Next year will be better and better. We will have more experience and we will be older.”

This year’s squad finished with a 7-6-1 record, the team’s first winning record since 2007 when they went 9-5-1 in the Class 5A Intermountain Conference. Since then the team had won just seven games in five years before finishing this year with a winning record.

What makes finishing this year with a winning record even more impressive is that the team accomplished the feat primarily with underclassmen. The Cowboys will lose just three players to graduation.

That doesn’t mean that the seniors will be easy to replace. Zane Abrams scored nearly half of the team’s 41 goals this year. The Cowboys also had a pair of strong foreign exchange students who will be missed.

However, the remainder of the team will be intact.

In fact, Carrillo rotated a number of players between the JV?and varsity team so there are at least 15 returning players with varsity experience.

Even more impressive, most of those players were just freshmen and sophomores this year.

Although the Cowboys did play some games against Class 5A JV?teams, most of their schedule was against varsity teams including 2-9 and 0-4 losses to the Summit Storm who won the Class 5A State Championship this past weekend.

In order to ensure that the program continues to improve, Carrillo has worked hard to provide plenty of playing time for players outside of the regular season.

He is currently running seventh and eighth-grade travel teams. In addition some of the CCHS varsity and JV players will play in an indoor league this winter. Finally, Carrillo expects to take a team to some tournaments this spring.

“More young kids playing a lot of soccer is good for the future,” Carrillo said. “We will have a lot more experienced players and will be a lot stronger.”

Adding to the excitement, Crook County will move from the Intermountain Hybrid Conference to the Tri-Valley Conference next season. That means the team will no longer be forced to play Class 5A?teams as part of their league schedule.

La Salle Prep won this year’s Tri-Valley Conference championship with an 11-4-1 overall record. However, La Salle is moving to Class 5A next year. The remaining teams in the league with winning records include Molalla (8-4-4), North Marion (9-3-4), and Madras (6-6-2).

With most of his team returning, and what at least on paper is an easier schedule, Carrillo is excited about the future.

“I want to tell the kids and everybody that loves soccer to keep playing,”?he said. “Keep playing and be ready for a wonderful season. It’s going to be exciting because I’m sure that they will win, and they will win a lot.”

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