Homer Brings Added Local Flavor To OFA's Cring Tournament
BY DAVE SHEA
One of the highlights of Kevin Douglass' soccer career at Ogdensburg Free Academy was being named the Most Valuable Player as a senior in the 1994 Gerry Cring Memorial Tournament.
One of the highlights of his young career as the Head Varsity Soccer Coach at Homer Central School will take place on Friday and Saturday night as Douglass leads the Trojans into the 2019 Cring Tournament.
"It is just awesome to take our team into this tournament. I played against Matt (OFA Coach Matt Morley) in high school and we were friends in college at SUNY Cortland. It will be great to coach against players whose parents that I knew growing up. We are looking forward to playing an outstanding program in Lisbon." said Coach Douglass who has strong family ties to the Blue Devil program.
"We talked in June about us playing in the tournament and just decided to get it done. Our team is staying at Jacques Cartier Park and we are looking to do well and make it a team bonding weekend."
Homer will meet Lisbon in the first varsity game at 6 p.m. on Friday and host OFA will play Brushton-Moira at 8 p.m. The consolation and championship games will be played at 6 p.m. on 8 p.m. on Saturday.
The junior varsity action involving OFA, Madrid-Waddington, Chateaugay and Brushton-Moira will all take place with 4 p.m. games at the OFA turf and adjoining JV fields.
First round matchups are: OFA vs B-M and Chateaugay vs M-W.
The admission is $3 for adults with no charge for students. Season passes will not be accepted at this event.
Coach Matt Morley will be looking for the Blue Devils to bounce back from a relatively down season where Devils took second in the NAC Central with 6-3-1 record behind Canton and then suffered a loss Salmon River in the Class B semi-finals which snapped a run of sectional titles.
Leading the way for a young team will be a first team a returning All-NAC Central selection in midfielder Connor Griffith and a second team all-star in sweeper Greg Mallott. They head a group of OFA seniors who have played in several championships games in their careers.
"We are only returning six guys from last year's team but with the additions from the JV team and two guys who moved into the district from Lisbon we are looking to fill out a competitive roster," said Coach Morley.
"Our experience starts in the back with seniors Greg Mallott and Nolan O'Donnell and we also have a lot of experience in the midfield and forward positions with Connor Griffith, Karson LaRose, Kelson Hooper, Connor Smith and Holden Woods. All of the boys have multiple years of varsity experience and will help carry the load and lead the way."
First year players are: junior goalie David Vernsey, sophomore goalie Trent Lovely, junior midfielders London Jackson and Nick LaRue, sophomore middies Kam Johnson and Franklin Beach, defenders in juniors Logan Horton, Keighan Sias, JD King and Colin Brabant, sophomore defender Aidan LaFlair and two forwards in junior Holden Woods and sophomore Easton Garvey.
The Golden Knights enjoyed a strong 7-3-2 NAC West season with a very young team in 2018 and reached the Section 10 Class D quarter-finals where they were eliminated in a 1-0 sudden victory loss to Harrisvillle.
Gradewise Lisbon will very young again with only one senior in center midfielder Karter Jordan. But with the bulk of last year's team returning Coach Dicky Marcellus is looking for his team to continue the accomplished play of last season and come of age offensively.
"To advance to next level we have to put the ball in the net. It is as simple has that because we have shown the ability to create a lot of offensive chances," said Marcellus who will once again be assisted by Kelley Geary and John McBath.
"We only lost four players from last year's team, we return players to the key positions and we have some good players moving up from the modified level."
Assuming leadership roles for this year's team is central midfielder Karter Jordan who is a returning First Team All-NAC West selections and sophomore forward Miles Gendebien who earned Second Team All-Stars last fall and looks to replace some of the scoring provided by graduated all-star Josh O'Brien.
"Karter Jordan is a great leader in the midfield and we need Miles Gendebien to become a force offensively," said Marcellus.
"We definitely have the potential to do well. Playing a Class B school in Homer will be a good challenge to start the season."
Other players bringing strong experience to the Knights: sweeper Ben LaRock, midfielders Jackson LaRock and Griffin Walker, stopper Teagan Jordan, goaltender Hayden McBath, forward Storm Walker and defender Gregory Wood.
First year junior Kaiden Mussen has impressed his coaches with his aggressive physical play and Matt Robinson shows the athleticism and quickness to play in goal and in the field.
The Golden Knights complete roster is: Hayes Bouchey (Jr, F), Jayden Carr (Jr. D), Cody Claxton (Jr F), Coop Davison (So, MF), Miles Gendebien (So F), Tyler Gravlin (Jr MF, F), Chase Jacobs (So, F), Karter Jordan (Sr, CMF), Teagan Jordan (Jr, Stopper), Benjamin LaRock (So, Sweeper), Isaac LaRock (Fr D),, Jackson LaRock (Jr CMF), Hayden McBath (Jr G), Kaiden Mussen (Jr F), Caleb Richardson (Fr, F-D), Rowan Rishe (So MF), Matthew Robinson (Jr G, MF), Ian Sovie (Fr, F), Alexander Vesel, So D), Griffin Walker (So MF-D), Storm Walker (Jr F), Jayden Williams (So D), Trenton Williams (So F), Gregory Wood (Jr D).
BRUSHTON-MOIRA (9-5-0 NAC EAST)
The Panthers bring a strong soccer tradition under the direction of Coach Adam Britton into the tournament. B-M went 9-5 in the NAC East last season and dropped a well-played 2-0 decision to Madrid-Waddington in the Section 10 Class C title game.
"I think our biggest strength as a team is our work ethic. We have a very intelligent team that remains positive and is determined to achieve great results," said Coach Britton.
"We have a strong group of seniors led by defenseman Ben Schack-Selmeyter and our offense is led by by Kalub Langdon (junior)."
Other seniors on the team are: Charles Clookey, Caden LaMay, Eli Russell, Ben Schak and Noah Taylor. Other juniors are: Justin Kennedy, Wayne Palmer III, Ajay Martin, George Webb and Gavin Allen. Sophomore Lucas Bowen and Edmund Collins round out the team.
HOMER (3-11-1 OHSL Liberty)
Starting his second season at the Homer helm, former OFA standout Kevin Douglass is looking to guide a concerted rise in the fortunes of his team in a very difficult division.
"Playing teams like Westhill, Skaneateles, Cazenovia and Marcellus is very difficult. We are hoping to give soccer a bigger place in our community," said Douglass who coached modified soccer at Homer for 10 years.
Coach Douglas looks for senior attacker Daniel Sokolik and his son, sophomore sweeper Tanner Douglass, to lead the offense and defense and for exchange students Elias Sarda Valls-Jove from Spain and Joao Antonio Dias Ferreira from Brazil to be fine additions to the team.
Dominic Tutino is the team's fourth senior and Marc Harris, Jacob Karam, Daniel Levitskiy, Jared Matthews, Connor McCloy, Carter Newcomb, Brandon Shattuck and Jack Updyke form the junior class. Sophomore Zander Johnson is the team's goalie.