Bryan Housley played on the first Crook County High School boys soccer team. Now, years later, he is the new head coach.
Housley was an assistant coach a year ago, before accepting the reins as head coach this season.
After graduating from Crook County High School, Housley played soccer at Cascade College in Portland before accepting the head boys soccer job at Westside Christian in Lake Oswego. After six years in that position, Housley moved to Washington, where he accepted the head girls soccer position at Heritage High School.
In Washington, girls soccer is in the fall and boys soccer is in the spring. The school was so satisfied with Housley's first year as girls head coach that in the spring he was hired as the boys head coach. After eight years as both the boys and girls head coach at Heritage, Housley returned to Prineville to take over the family business.
"That makes 22 seasons of coaching ball," he said. "This will be my 23rd, that's not counting last year. Coaching wasn't part of of m plan moving here a little over a year ago. My plan was just to take over the family business and focus on that and watch my kids play sports and kind of be a dad for a while, but in talking with people, I came to the conclusion that I could probably help the team out a bit with my experience."
Housley is working to change both the offensive and defensive style the Cowboys play as well as the culture of the program.
"I'm very happy with the effort," he said. "We are going through a giant cultural shift right now of expectations and of desire for what their goals are. It's a different idea of soccer for a lot of these guys. We are technically driven right now until we can get enough skill to get into that tactical phase."
Housley noted that historically the Cowboys would get the ball and then try to push the ball ahead through the defense and race down the field to catch up. Instead, he is working to install a ball control style of offense and defense.
"I think that they are going to be fun to watch," Housley said prior to their first match. "It's going to be a much different style of play than people here are used to. We are going to be a position team as opposed to a boot and run team. It will be a lot more like what you would see if we were to make it to the state finals."
Housley and the Cowboys opened up their season on Thursday at the Sisters Jamboree.
With just four returning players on the pitch and 10 players who had never played a high school game, Crook County struggled in their opening half, falling 4-0 to Sisters. In their second match of the jamboree, the Cowboy defense improved as they fell 1-0 to the Mountain View Cougars.
"With a few lineup changes and a bit of confidence, the Cowboys held Mountain View to just one goal," Housley said. "Communication and a better understanding of our defensive management helped maintain a competitive energy."
Housley added that he was pleased with the team's play, especially in the second match as defender Hayden Shaw, goalkeeper Tiernan Durbin and forward Eli Oelkers all played well.
With just one day following the jamboree to practice, the Cowboys then took on South Albany at home Saturday morning, falling to the Redhawks by an 8-3 count.
The Redhawks scored less than two minutes into the match. However, the Cowboys regrouped, tying the game 1-1 on a goal by Adam Ortiz, assisted by Gabe Love. South Albany scored again midway through the first half, and that's the way the score stayed for the remainder of the half as the Redhawks took a 2-1 lead into intermission.
South Albany scored four goals in rapid succession to open the second half, pushing their lead to 6-1. Crook County answered with a goal by Jaycob Miller. Following another goal by South Albany, Shaw scored on a penalty kick. South Albany socred one final goal with just over 30 seconds remaining in the contest.
"I would credit South Albany for figuring out my back four, my back line and getting behind them," Housley said of the second half. "We just didn't have an answer for some of their fast guys. They didn't allow our young guys to find that rhythm that they had in the first half."
Despite the loss, Housley was pleased with what he saw from the team offensively.
"We haven't even been working on the offensive side of our attack," he said. "We've been working on our defensive stance because we are installing a completely new defensive stance for this Cowboy team. So, the offensive side was just a treat for us this match."
Other highlights, according to Housely, included 11 saves by Durbin and 10 offsides calls forced by the defense, which shows that the defense has gotten more aggressive.
The Cowboys are back in action on Thursday when they host Madras High School in a 4 p.m. match. The team is home again on Saturday when they take on Thurston in an 11 a.m. match.
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