With a senior-dominated roster, the Scappoose boys soccer team has the strength and experience to be a factor in the competitive Northwest Oregon Conference.
Eighth-year head coach Scott Stanton sees the 11 seniors and several technically sound younger players as an intriguing mix for the Indians, who are looking to make a big step forward in their second season as a member of the Class 5A Northwest Oregon Conference.
"It's a great mix of players who all have a little something different to bring to the team," Stanton said.
The focus entering the season is on organization and communication on defense, an area where the Indians struggled while finishing 2-12 last season and beating only St. Helens in conference play.
"Making sure that we're communicating, staying organized and staying compact so that we're hard to break down" is a priority, according to Stanton.
He is encouraged by what he's seen in training from senior defenders Brisyn Maller and Micah Donaldson and from defender Cade McDonald, the only junior on the projected varsity roster.
Sophomore Mason Earl is looking capable of building on a strong freshman season in which he was called upon to play varsity minutes on defense.
Senior midfielder Jake Boyle also has looked solid in a defensive role, according to Stanton.
Stanton is hopeful that Donaldson's addition to the central defense can provide some stability. His brother Ian was a key defender on the 2014 Scappoose team that won the Cowapa League title.
The Indians' attack also should be improved from last season, when Scappoose scored 13 goals and gave up 48.
Senior midfielder Corbin Edson was selected to the all-NWOC second team last season, and senior forward Teegan Bond was honorable mention all-conference as a junior. They lead what Stanton described as "a great cast of talent" that should boost the scoring.
Edson is joined in midfield by senior DJ Backus and sophomore Andrew Darco.
"It will be fun working with them to see what kind of havoc we can wreak on opposing defenses," Stanton said.
The other seniors looking to help the Indians improve are forwards Jake Bernhard, Ashton Kauffman and Westin Gonrowski, midfielder Cesar Bastian and defender Dimitri Vanderhoef.
Sophomore Jed Barnaby is the projected starting goalkeeper.
Two freshmen midfielders are on the projected varsity roster: Preston Cooper and Paul Parral.
Stanton is flexible about the style of play the Indians will rely on this season. The coach plans to begin to work that out as he learns more about how his squad best fits together.
No matter what approach they take, Stanton wants his players to be smart about reading the game on their own.
"The better we are at making decisions when we're in possession of the ball the better our chances of creating goal scoring opportunities. The better we are at making decisions defensively, the more likely we are to win the ball back," he said.
The schedule will be challenging. The Indians must play nine of their 14 games on the road. Their first four matches are on the road before a Sept. 19 home game against Lebanon.
La Salle Prep, which lost in overtime to Corvallis in the 2018 5A final, is again expected to be the top team in the Northwest Oregon Conference. The Falcons are ranked second behind Corvallis in the first 5A coaches poll, which has NWOC contender Wilsonville ranked fifth.
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